How a priest’s admission to a News reporter sparked Buffalo’s clergy sex abuse scandal

Buffalo News

February 27, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

I knocked on the front door expecting the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits not to answer – or to slam the door in my face when I introduced myself as a Buffalo News reporter and explained why I had driven 45 minutes to speak with him.

I told Orsolits that a man named Michael Whalen publicly accused the priest of molesting him in the late 1970s. I was looking for a response. Orsolits didn’t shut the door.

Little did I know at the time, one year ago today, that our brief conversation would help set in motion the unraveling of decades of cover-up of sexual abuse by more than 100 priests in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

Orsolits stepped one foot outside and asked me to repeat the name of the person making the accusation. When I did, Orsolits said he didn’t remember anybody named Michael Whalen.

It was an odd reaction. We talked some more. He carefully considered my questions, but didn’t give lengthy answers. I didn’t immediately take notes because I didn’t want to scare him from speaking freely.

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