Another person comes forward, accuses a former Buffalo priest of sexual abuse

By Shannon Smith
June 01, 2018

[with video]

Another person has come forward -- accusing a former Buffalo priest of sexual abuse. He's named Donald Becker as his abuser.

Friday, June 1st is the deadline for victims of alleged sexual abuse to file for compensation from the Buffalo Catholic Diocese.

“I literally sat in my office and cried. And that point I knew I had to do something,” said John Polvino.

For months, John Polvino watched several people come forward with sexual abuse allegations against many Buffalo priests. He says something clicked when he saw Michael Whalen, who spoke with News 4 in March, share his story.  

“So courageous, so brave, that he shouldn't be - you know, I needed to pay it forward. He saved my life by coming out,” said Polvino.

So, after 43 years, Polvino finally revealed he was sexually abused at 13-years-old. Something he's never shared with anyone, even his wife.

He's since filed a report with the Buffalo Catholic Diocese against former priest Donald Becker. Becker is listed by the Diocese as one of 42 priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

“There's going to never be a prosecution because time is so long, so it's, it's pretty heartbreaking,” said Polvino.

Polvino says after both of his grandparents died, Becker was there for him. He was pastor at SS Peter and Paul in Hamburg at the time.

“’I’m your only friend, I’m your real friend.’ And then he had alcohol and oh here you want cigarettes, you know 13 years old, holy smokes,” said Polvino.

He says it wasn't long until he was doing work on Becker’s cabin that's where he says the sexual abuse happened. 

“I can still, I can still see this cabin in Java, New York,” said Polvino.

Although Polvino filed a claim with the Diocese in March, that was too late to qualify for the compensation program through the Diocese.

The diocese can't say how many people have applied for it.

“It's not about the money. It's the measure of justice,” said Polvino.

Polvino tells News 4 speaking out about this has been part of a healing process for him.

A spokesman for the diocese says since releasing the list of 42 priests, 5 others have been placed on administrative leave for investigation only. He says they wouldn't be added to the list until those investigations are complete.



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