Despite warnings, past Buffalo bishops returned abusive clergy to parishes

The Buffalo News

May 27, 2018

By Jay Tokasz

When a mother complained that the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits propositioned her teenage son in a bar, the Diocese of Buffalo quietly sent him away for mental health therapy and listed him as “on leave” in its official 1979 directory.

Then, within months, the diocese reassigned him to a new parish, where he later was accused of molesting at least two boys.

Orsolits isn’t the only Buffalo priest accused of sexual abusing children who had been marked as “on leave” and then put back into a parish.

The Buffalo News found that from 1973 to 2000 the diocese assigned 11 priests to work in a parish or other ministry after they were marked as “absent on leave” or “awaiting assignment” in official directories. The diocese this year identified nine of those priests as having been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors. The two other priests were publicly accused but not part of the diocesan list.

At least three of the 11 priests – while on leave from a parish or otherwise unassigned – were treated at Southdown Institute, a mental health facility near Toronto, for sexual transgressions with minors and then reassigned to parishes.

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