Sex abuse lawsuits spread beyond Catholic Church to other denominations

The Buffalo News

December 22, 2019

By Jay Tokasz

A second woman has accused a former religious education director at a Lutheran church in the Town of Tonawanda of sexually abusing her when she was a child in the late 1970s.

Kelly L. Klose, 54, alleged in a lawsuit that Bruce Connolly abused her from 1976 to 1979, when she was 11 to 14 and attended First Trinity Lutheran Church on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

“It’s not just a sexual abuse. It’s a betrayal,” said attorney Steve Boyd, who represents Klose.

Boyd said his client has had a difficult life and that “all the rough parts” of it sprung from the relationship with Connolly, who groomed Klose to gain her trust and then preyed on her for years.

A vast majority of the more than 310 Child Victims Act lawsuits in Western New York are against Catholic Church entities, primarily the Buffalo Diocese. But child molesters operate in a wide range of denominations, religious groups and other organizations, and lawsuits filed last week in Erie County State Supreme Court bore that out, as four of the seven cases had nothing to do with the Catholic Church.

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