Top Buffalo diocese official allegedly scolded boy who accused priest of abuse

Buffalo News

June 20, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

The second-in-command of the Buffalo Diocese in the early 1980s allegedly blamed a teenage boy who accused the Rev. Michael R. Freeman of sexually abusing him.

Monsignor Donald W. Trautman told the boy in a meeting at diocese headquarters that he should have avoided Freeman, who was assigned to St. Christopher Church in the Town of Tonawanda at the time, according to local attorney Steve Boyd.

“Trautman told the teenager: ‘You should have never put yourself in that position,’ ” said Boyd.

Boyd represents James Bottlinger, who rejected the diocese’s $650,000 offer to settle his complaint that Freeman abused him as a teen after the priest was removed from St. Christopher and sent to St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster in 1984.

The diocese in December offered Bottlinger its largest settlement award in its recently concluded $17.5 million program compensating childhood victims of clergy sex abuse.

Bottlinger, 50, called the offer “insignificant” in the face of the abuse he endured, and said he plans to sue the diocese, preferring a full accounting of how and why the diocese allowed Freeman to continue in ministry for so long.

Boyd said he’s spoken with three other men who went to the diocese in the early 1980s with complaints about Freeman and sexual abuse.

One of them is Niagara Falls attorney Paul Barr, who rejected a $45,000 compensation offer from the diocese and already has filed a lawsuit over an alleged molestation in the rectory of Sacred Heart Church in Niagara Falls in 1980. Barr said he reported the abuse in person at the diocese chancery around 1982.

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