Attorney General of the State of New York

November 23, 2020

By Letitia James et al.

The Attorney General brings this lawsuit to obtain remedial and injunctive relief for the persistent violation of New York nonprofit law by the Diocese of Buffalo (the “Diocesan Corporation” or the “Diocese”). For nearly two decades, the Diocesan Corporation ignored standards established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (“USCCB”) in June 2002 to address and prevent the sexual abuse of minors by U.S. clergy. In direct defiance of the USCCB’s public commitment to reform, the Diocesan Corporation, through the conduct of its senior leadership, evaded key provisions of these standards, ignoring requirements for the investigation and review of alleged clergy sexual abuse.

2. Complaints of sexual abuse against priests continued unabated at the Diocesan Corporation from 2002 forward. Rather than adequately investigate and formally review the allegations to determine if priests were qualified to maintain their clerical status, the Diocesan Corporation privately designated priests that it considered to have abused minors as “unassignable.” Some of these unassignable priests were removed from ministry or allowed to retire in anticipation or shortly after the adoption of the USCCB’s 2002 standards. The Diocese permitted these unassignable priests to remain incardinated without any meaningful supervision or monitoring. These tactics together amounted to a practice of non-compliance with the USCCB’s principles and procedures, and they operated to conceal the actual nature and scope of sexual abuse allegations in the Diocesan Corporation.

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