Attorney General of the State of New York
November 23, 2020
Church Leadership Failed to Respond to Sexual Abuse Allegations,
Engaged in Cover-Up of Credible Claims of Improper Sexual Conduct by Priests
Buffalo – New York Attorney General Letitia James today filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and former senior leaders, Bishop Emeritus Richard J. Malone and former Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, for failing to follow mandated policies and procedures that would help to prevent the rampant sexual abuse of minors by priests within the Catholic Church. The Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) two year-long investigation into the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults within the New York dioceses of the Catholic Church found that allegations of improper sexual conduct against diocesan priests in Buffalo were inadequately investigated, if at all, and were covered-up for years. Even though the diocese’s leadership found sexual abuse complaints to be credible, they sheltered the accused priests from public disclosure by deeming them as “unassignable,” and permitted them to retire or go on purported medical leave, rather than face referral to the Vatican for possible removal from the priesthood.
“When trust is broken with spiritual leaders, it can lead to a crisis of faith. For years, the Diocese of Buffalo and its leadership failed to protect children from sexual abuse,” said Attorney General James. “Instead, they chose to protect the very priests who were credibly accused of these atrocious acts. Individuals who are victims of abuse deserve to have their claims timely investigated and determined, and the Buffalo Diocese refused to give them that chance. While we will never be able to undo the wrongs of the past, I can guarantee that my office will do everything in its power to ensure trust, transparency, and accountability moving forward.”
In addition to today’s suit, Attorney General James filed a motion to allow for the disclosure of the accused priests’ names and alleged conduct outlined in the complaint. [See also the memorandum supporting the motion.]
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