Sept. 5, 2019
By Charlie Specht
Ryszard Biernat was just 23 years old when he arrived in the Diocese of Buffalo in 2003.
The future secretary to the bishop — who has now become Whistleblower No. 2 in the diocese sex scandal — was only a seminarian when he was assigned to stay with Rev. Art Smith at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in South Buffalo.
“During that break, Art Smith assaulted me sexually,” Fr. Ryszard said in an interview with the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team. “And I wish somebody told me it was a crime.”
With hulking forearms and a muscular build, Fr. Ryszard is normally a tower of physical strength. But in recounting that moment from 15 years ago — when he could barely process what happened — he struggles now to hold back tears.
“At that time, I knew enough English to order (a) latte at Starbucks, not to report the sexual assault,” he said. “You know, they don’t teach you these words in English second language classes.”
The Polish immigrant would soon get an education in how the bishops of the Diocese of Buffalo handle sexual abuse.
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