How a local reporter got a priest to confess to sexual abuse

Columbia Journalism Review

September 17, 2018

By Matthew Kassel

IN FEBRUARY, A RETIRED PRIEST confessed to Buffalo News reporter Jay Tokasz that he had sexually abused dozens of teenage boys decades ago. The admission shook Buffalo, a deeply Catholic city, and several victims have come forward with stories of abuse by priests in the local diocese. New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s statewide clergy abuse probe will reportedly focus on Buffalo’s diocese.

Tokasz, 48, previously worked at the Ithaca Journal and then at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle*, where he covered an unraveling clergy abuse scandal in the local diocese. Since 2002, he’s held a number of reporting roles at The Buffalo News, where he recently joined the watchdog team covering the Catholic church.

Tokasz traced the path of his reporting from the surprise February admission to the ongoing statewide investigation. The interview is condensed and edited for clarity.

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