Erie’s Trautman accused over Buffalo abuse complaints

Erie Times

June 18, 2019

By Ed Palattella

Man claims retired Erie Catholic bishop failed to address concerns over abusive priest when he was at Buffalo diocese.

Retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman was accused Tuesday of mishandling complaints that a priest in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo was abusing teenagers when Trautman was chancellor in that diocese more than 30 years ago.

Flanked by lawyers at a news conference in Buffalo, the accuser, James Bottlinger, 50, said that he was in high school when the Rev. Michael Freeman molested him when Freeman was at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster, New York.

Bottlinger said Trautman and others knew of previous complaints about Freeman, but that Freeman was moved around in the diocese and eventually abused Bottlinger.

“He’s got a lot of answering to do,” Bottlinger said of Trautman.

The lawyers said Bottlinger intends to sue the Diocese of Buffalo over the abuse after he recently rejected a $650,000 settlement that the diocese offered him as part of its $17.5 million program to compensate victims who, as children, suffered clergy sexual abuse.

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