Sean Kirst: In priest abuse fallout, two survivors find themselves outside the lines

The Buffalo News

March 28, 2018

By Sean Kirst

Jonpaul Okal and Robert Swierat have never met. They grew up in separate parts of Western New York, and their lives took different turns.

But they share the same wounds.

Both say they were sexually abused as children by Catholic priests in their communities, accounts supported by their families. One says he was assaulted in the basement recreation room in his home, the other in a bedroom and shower while staying at a residence for priests who taught in a Lancaster high school.

In both situations, the accused priests have been identified as abusive in unrelated cases.

Okal and Swierat each also represent a void in the way the Diocese of Buffalo is responding to accounts about improper sexual behavior. For different reasons, both said diocesan officials told them they are ineligible for a new review process that offers financial compensation in cases of credible abuse.

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