Former Buffalo priest accused of abuse in California lawsuit

Buffalo News

July 23, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

An Episcopal priest in California who formerly served as a Catholic priest in the Buffalo Diocese was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a woman in the Town of Tonawanda decades ago.

The abuse is alleged to have happened when the Rev. Paul J. Kowalewski was preparing to be a Catholic priest in Buffalo in the 1970s.

Kowalewski, 71, currently is listed as part of the assisting clergy in the Church of St. Paul in the Desert, a parish in Palm Springs in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. He has been an Episcopal priest since 1990.

Minnesota law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on Monday against the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, alleging that the diocese allowed Kowalewski to stay in active ministry despite being aware of accusations against him.

“I want him out. I don’t want anybody else to stand here with nothing done about this,” said Patricia Harner, a Florida resident who is the plaintiff in the suit. “I brought this suit because I have been living with this for so many years, the pain, the heartache and I thought he was out of the priesthood and any kind of ministry at all.”

Attorney J. Michael Reck said the diocese needs to remove Kowalewski from ministry immediately.

“This lawsuit seeks not money, but safety,” he said.

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