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  Local Woman Says Priest Facing Suit Also Physically, Sexually Abused Her

By Dave Condren
Buffalo News
March 12, 1995

Nearly 30 years ago, Gloria was struggling with doubts about her Catholic faith, so she turned to a priest for advice.

She was looking for compassion, reassurance and guidance. Instead, she said, she was subjected to sexual and physical abuse so humiliating that she kept it locked in the deepest recesses of her memory until last year.

The priest she sought out three decades ago was the Rev. Robert J. Biesinger, the woman said in an interview last week. He is the same priest named earlier this month in a sexual-assault suit filed by another woman in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Unlike that woman, who alleges that she repressed the memory of abuse by Father Biesinger for nearly 20 years, Gloria said she never has been able to forget.

"I have never forgotten," said Gloria, a local businesswoman who did not want her identity revealed. "I have had nightmares all these years. I bet there was not a week or a month that went by that I didn't think about it. I have never recovered from it."

Gloria said she contacted The Buffalo News after reading about the lawsuit against Father Biesinger because she wants to be sure "that he is never able to touch another woman."

"I know there must be others (victims)," she said.

Gloria, who was a young adult at the time, said she turned to Father Biesinger for help in 1965, when he was an assistant pastor at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Williamsville.

"I went to him for counseling, and he said he had to punish me," Gloria said.

The punishment, she said, was meted out on three occasions in the parish school and rectory.

Gloria said she never told anyone about the abuse until a year ago, when she wrote to Monsignor Robert J. Cunningham, chancellor of the Buffalo Diocese.

Monsignor David M. Lee, diocesan communications director, confirmed that Monsignor Cunningham received Gloria's letter.

The diocesan leaders said they cannot comment on Father Biesinger's case.

Asked about Father Biesinger's current status, Monsignor Lee said that he is "a priest on leave."

Monsignor Lee would not say whether Father Biesinger's resignation last August as pastor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Parish in Cheektowaga was voluntary.

The Chicago lawsuit against Father Biesinger, alleging sexual assault and abuse, was filed by Colleen McMullin Ptak, who claimed the priest molested her in August 1974 in Chicago.

At the time, Mrs. Ptak was 15 and a member of a color guard and drill team at Baker-Victory High School in Lackawanna. The unit was in Chicago for national competition.

Shortly after writing to the diocese, Gloria said Monsignor Cunningham called her and reported that Father Biesinger was questioned about her accusations.

Monsignor Cunningham told her that Father Biesinger's response was "I can't remember, it was too long ago," Gloria said.

When she remarked to Monsignor Cunningham that Father Biesinger's comment was "an admission of guilt," Gloria said, Monsignor Cunningham's reply was "I guess it is."

 
 

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