Diocese of Buffalo finds two priests guilty, clears two others after internal reviews

By Anthony Reyes And Charlie Specht
December 14, 2018

[with video]

The Diocese of Buffalo has cleared two priests of sexual misconduct allegations and found two others guilty of the allegations after an internal review.

Allegations of child sexual abuse against the Revs. Fabian J. Maryanski and Mark J. Wolski have been substantiated and they will remain on administrative leave, the diocese said Friday in a written statement.

But allegations against the Rev. Roy Herberger and Msgr. Frederick R. Leising "have not been substantiated," the diocese said, and the two priests have been returned to active ministry, diocesan officials said, although Leising is retired.

The decisions follow an internal diocese investigation and a review by the Diocesan Review Board, which reviews cases involving sexual abuse and misconduct against clergymen and religious sisters.

The results of the diocesan investigation continue to be reviewed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith at the Vatican in Rome, which will make the final determination, the diocese said.

Maryanski's case has drawn the most attention, as the diocese first learned about the abuse allegations in 1995 but allowed him to remain in ministry until May. Maryanski has at various times admitted and denied he had sexual relations with his accuser, who says she was 15 when the abuse occurred. (Maryanski claimed she was in her 20s).

Bishop Malone also left Maryanski off the diocese's original list of accused priests. A 7 Eyewitness News investigation revealed the diocese considered placing Maryanski on the list of 42 accused priests but concluded, “We did not remove him from ministry despite full knowledge of the case, and so including him on list might require explanation.”

Wolski, meanwhile, served previously on the diocese's review board, the group that reviews allegations of child sexual abuse, 7 Eyewitness News reported in May . He denied the allegations.Herberger and Leising both maintained their innocence from the time they were suspended.

Part 1 of the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation revealed that Malone returned Fr. Art Smith to ministry despite allegations of inappropriate contact with a child. Malone returned the accused priests to ministry after a previous bishop suspended him, documents obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team show.

Part 2 revealed that Malone allowed Fr. Robert Yetter to remain pastor of St. Mary's in Swormville despite multiple sexual harassment allegations by young men.

Part 3 cited church records that showed more than 100 priests in the diocese were accused of sexual abuse or misconduct. Malone in March released a list of only 42 priests "who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor."

The investigative series sparked Buffalo civic leaders to call for Malone's resignation and Catholics have mounted weekly protests in front of the Diocese of Buffalo Chancery. Malone in August held a news conference and refused to resign as Buffalo bishop.

In September, the State Attorney General launched a statewide investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and last week, it was revealed the FBI has launched its own criminal investigation into the diocese.

In October, "60 Minutes" aired a national investigative story on Bishop Malone and the Diocese of Buffalo. 

In November, I-Team Chief Investigator Charlie Specht traveled to Portland, Maine . Malone served as bishop there before coming to Buffalo. There, Charlie spoke with advocates for victims of sexual abuse about how Malone had been accused of mishandling sex abuse cases. The I-Team also obtained new documents surrounding the cases which paint a much different picture of the bishop’s past.


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