Buffalo Diocese faces second federal lawsuit over former priest

Buffalo News

August 28, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

A New Hampshire man who alleges a Buffalo priest sexually abused him when he was a youngster in Springville is suing the Diocese of Buffalo in federal court.

Arthur Porada Jr., 61, said in court papers filed this week that James A. Spielman molested him multiple times from 1971 to 1976 when Porada was a parishioner of St. Aloysius Church in Springville. Spielman was associate pastor of the parish at the time.

It’s the second time in five years the diocese was sued in federal court over a child sex abuse claim against Spielman.

Porada’s lawyer is Michele M. Betti, who sued the Buffalo Diocese in 2014 in federal court in Hawaii on behalf of David Husted of Texas. Husted, 53, also accused Spielman of repeated acts of sexual abuse from 1979 to 1982 when Husted was a student at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean.

Husted’s lawsuit led to a $1.5 million settlement – the largest single settlement that has come to light so far in the Buffalo Diocese for a clergy sex abuse case.

Porada’s case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. He is the first plaintiff in Western New York to use the federal court system under the state’s Child Victims Act, which suspended the statute of limitations in previously time-barred child sex abuse civil cases. It has prompted more than 100 lawsuits to be filed in State Supreme Courts in Erie and Niagara counties since a one-year window for filing claims opened on Aug. 14.

Betti said she was able to file the case in federal court on diversity grounds, because Porada lives in New Hampshire and the defendants are in other states.

A federal lawsuit was likely to proceed more quickly than a case filed in the state court system, said Betti.

“We’re not waiting to have these cases consolidated and have them take years to decide. There’s less tactics defendants can play in federal court. You get your trial date right away,” she said. “And we want to expose the Diocese of Buffalo for their transferring of a serial perpetrator from school to school.”

Federal courts apply the laws of the states in which they operate, so the Child Victims Act’s suspension of the statute of limitations extends to federal cases like Porada’s, said Betti.

Betti took a similar approach with Husted’s case in Hawaii, which offered a two-year window for victims to file lawsuits without being time-barred by the statute of limitations.

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