Child Victims Act suit names priest previously convicted of child sex abuse

By Aaron Besecker, Mary B. Pasciak, Matthew Spina, Dan Herbeck And Maki Becker
Buffalo News
August 14, 2019

Cheryl Bentley was in the third grade when, she said, Monsignor James P. Hayes began sexually abusing her.
Photo by Derek Gee

A Buffalo Public Schools science teacher was accused of sexually abusing a student in the only Child Victims Act filed so far against the district.

A Hamburg man alleges he was abused as a teenager by teacher Robert Sewast from 1980 to 1982, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Sewast was accused of abusing the plaintiff about five times a week for about two years when the boy was 14 and 15. The court papers do not identify the school where the abuse allegedly occurred.

Sewast forcibly touched the teen and exposed himself to him, according to the lawsuit. The teenager was alone with Sewast during study hall, class, tutoring, after-school activities and summer school, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Frank M. Bogulski.

The district has not yet been served with the lawsuit and has not been able to review the allegations, Buffalo Public Schools general counsel Nathaniel J. Kuzma said.

Kuzma said he could not confirm if Sewast was employed by the district. Sewast could not be reached by The Buffalo News.

A total of 115 Child Victims Act lawsuits were filed Wednesday and Thursday in five Western New York counties over old allegations of sexual abuse. Nearly all of the people accused of molesting children were Catholic priests.

But the Boy Scouts of America, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the East Aurora School District, the Jesuits and other organizations are also named as defendants. At least 104 of the lawsuits are against the Diocese of Buffalo.

A one-year "look-back" window opened at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday under a new state law that gives abuse victims a year to file claims that previously were prohibited from moving forward in court. Below is a look at some of the lawsuits filed.

The News does not identify sexual abuse victims without their consent.

• • •

Episcopal priest in California named in suit

An Episcopal priest in California who formerly served as a Catholic priest in the Buffalo Diocese was accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a 16-year-old parishioner of St. Amelia Church in the Town of Tonawanda starting in 1971.

The Rev. Paul J. Kowalewski, now 71, currently is listed as part of the assisting clergy in the Church of St. Paul in the Desert, a parish in Palm Springs in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego. He has been an Episcopal priest since 1990.

The lawsuit said the abuse continued until 1973. The victim's attorney, Steve Boyd, said the victim alleged Kowalewski sexually abused her at Beaver Island State Park, at a cottage in Canada and in his car.

Minnesota law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles in July against the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, alleging that the diocese allowed Kowalewski to stay in active ministry despite being aware of accusations against him.

• • •

Deceased priest accused of abuse for 1st time

The Rev. John Kempczynski, who died in 2009, was publicly accused for the first time of sexually abusing a child in a Child Victims Act lawsuit.

The suit alleges Kempczynski molested a child who was about 6 years old in 1971, for about a year, while serving as the pastor of St. Rose of Lima in Forestville.

Kempczynski later became pastor of St. Joseph in North Tonawanda. He retired in 1995, then served as a senior priest at St. Timothy Parish in the Town of Tonawanda.

• • •

Former St. Francis High principal accused of molesting student

A former student at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs alleges in a lawsuit he was molested over several years in the 1960s by the school's principal, the late Rev. Marion M. Tolczyk.

The former student, now living in Wayne County, Mich., says he was 16 when the abuse began and that it continued until he graduated in 1969.

Tolczyk, who also had been a pastor at St. Stanislaus, died in 2013 at age 86. The diocese has not identified him as credibly accused of molesting a child.

• • •

Allegations made for 1st time against monsignor

A monsignor who was the pastor of Holy Cross Church for more than 50 years and died in 1975 was publicly accused for the first time of being a child molester in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The lawsuit alleges Monsignor Joseph Gambino sexually abused a 5-year-old student from 1948 to 1949. The Buffalo Diocese has not identified Gambino as a priest credibly accused of child sex abuse.

The suit against the Buffalo Diocese, Holy Cross Church and Holy Cross School identifies the plaintiff as an Erie County resident born in 1943. He was allegedly brought to Gambino one day by a nun "presumably for disciplinary reasons," the suit says. The lawsuit alleges that when the boy was alone with Gambino, the monsignor abused him in the rectory, sacristy and other secluded areas in the church and school.

Gambino "admonished" the plaintiff not to tell anyone about the abuse, saying it would be a "sin," and said his grades and records could be affected if he did, the suit said.

• • •

Man whose allegations launched scandal files lawsuit

The man whose public accusations against the Rev. Norbert Orsolits in February 2018 helped start a flood of clergy abuse allegations in the Buffalo area filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the diocese and St. John Vianney Church in Orchard Park.

Michael F. Whalen Jr. accused Orsolits of “unpermitted sexual contact” in 1979 or 1980, when Whalen was about 14.

Orsolits admitted to a News reporter that he had abused “probably dozens” of teenage boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

• • •

Priest who advised U.S. presidents accused of abuse

A Buffalo priest who advised U.S. presidents on youth issues has been accused of molesting a boy in his rectory office at a Town of Tonawanda church and school 50 years ago, according to a lawsuit.

An Erie County man is accusing Monsignor Joseph E. Schieder of abusing him at St. Andrew’s Parish on a weekly basis while school was in session from November 1968 through June 1970, according to the suit filed against the diocese, the parish and St. Andrew's Country Day School.

Schieder used to have the boy regularly called to his office for a “checkup,” according to the suit. Schieder died in 1996. The diocese said in 2018 that he had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

• • •

Jewish temple named as defendant in suit

An Angola woman alleges that she was molested “once a week” for nine months by a tutor while taking Hebrew lessons at Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo.

The woman's lawsuit said she was 12 when the alleged abuse began in 1970. Her attorney, Frank M. Bogulski, identified tutor Martin Rothchild as the alleged abuser who “forcibly touched” the child and “exposed himself” to her.

Jeff Clark, executive director of the temple, told The Buffalo News that temple officials take the allegation “very, very seriously” and are going through old records in an effort to determine what happened.

• • •

The Rev. Joseph Rappl accused in lawsuit

When he was working at St. Peter Roman Catholic Church in Lewiston, the Rev. Joseph Rappl began sexually abusing a 12-year-old child in 1978, according to a lawsuit. The abuse continued for two years.

This is not the first time Rappl has been publicly accused of sexually abusing a child. Jeffrey M. Shaw told diocesan officials last year that Rappl had abused him at the Lewiston church in 1981, when he was 11. Shaw, who lives in Maryland, applied to the diocese last year for compensation for his pain and suffering, but he was told he was not eligible. The attorney who represented Shaw, Mitchell Garabedian, told The News that he had another client who had accused Rappl of abuse and had received compensation from the diocese.

The diocese said in November that Rappl had been credibly accused of abusing children.

Rappl, who resigned from the priesthood in 1999, lives in North Carolina.

• • •

Suit: Priest abused boy sent to him for counseling

A Cheektowaga man said that he was 8 when he was sent to counseling with the Rev. David M. Bialkowski at St. John Gualbert Church in Cheektowaga. Over the course of next eight months, Bialkowski forcibly touched him and exposed himself to the boy, according to a lawsuit against the Buffalo Diocese, St. John Gualbert and Kolbe Catholic School in Cheektowaga.

The alleged abuse took place between 1999 and 2000.

In 2011, a former altar server accused Bialkowski of inappropriate touching. Two more accusers came forward shortly after that, and Bialkowski was put on leave from St. John Gualbert and ordered not to perform any priestly duties.

Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone said in 2018 that Bialkowski was credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

• • •

Convicted priest accused

The only Buffalo Diocese priest in the past 50 years convicted of molesting a child in Western New York is named in a Child Victims Act lawsuit that accuses him of abusing a different child a decade before his arrest.

The Rev. Gerald Jasinski engaged in "unpermitted sexual contact" with an altar boy in the 1970s while he was a priest at St. John Gualbert Church in Cheektowaga, according to the lawsuit.

Jasinski was a priest at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster when Wyoming County sheriff's deputies arrested him June 7, 1986, on felony charges of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse and a charge of unlawfully dealing with a child. He was accused of having sexual contact with two boys, ages 15 and 18, at a cabin in the Town of Sheldon.

Jasinski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of attempted sexual abuse and was sentenced to five years' probation.

The lawsuit alleges Jasinski had sexual contact with a boy who was 11 to 14 years old at the time. The plaintiff was an altar boy, parishioner and religious education student at St. John Gualbert when Jasinski abused him between 1972 and 1975, the suit says.

The diocese said in March 2018 that Jasinski had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

• • •

Monsignor Basil Ormsby accused

A person in his or her 70s alleges being sexually abused by Monsignor Basil Ormsby from 1950 to 1953.

The plaintiff, whose gender is not specified, was between the ages of 9 and 12 and a member of a family active at Our Lady Help of Christians in Cheektowaga, the lawsuit says.

Ormsby died in 1997. He is accused of sexual wrongdoing in other recently filed lawsuits. The Diocese of Buffalo has his name on a list of its clergy who have been credibly accused.

• • •

Suit: Rev. Richard Judd molested teen

The Rev. Richard Judd sexually abused a 14-year-old parishioner of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin on Buffalo’s West Side from 1977 to 1978, a lawsuit alleges. That parish has since been absorbed into Our Lady of Hope Church.

This is not the first time Judd has been publicly accused of sexually abusing a child. In 2002, a man told Niagara Gazette reporters that the priest had abused him when he was a student at St. Teresa Elementary School in Niagara Falls in 1975.

Last year, the diocese said Judd had more than one credible abuse allegation made against him. He died in 1988.

• • •

Nun accused of abuse in Lancaster

A nun identified only as Sister Anne is alleged in a lawsuit to have sexually abused a 7-year-old child from about 1973 to 1974 at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lancaster. The church is now known as St. Mary of the Assumption.

In addition to naming the church and the Buffalo Diocese as defendants, the lawsuit also names the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.

• • •

The Rev. James P. Hayes accused of molesting girl

A woman who says she worked in the All Saints Parish rectory when she was a young teenager alleges she was sexually abused there in the 1970s by the Rev. James P. Hayes.

The woman said she was attending Catholic school at the time and got the job as a way to help with the cost of tuition. The sexual abuse continued until she quit the job months later, the lawsuit says.

Hayes, who died in 1988, was a longtime pastor of All Saints Parish, in Riverside, serving there from around 1972 until his death. He was named in 2018 on the diocese’s list of priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

• • •

Suit names Catholic school teacher in prison on child porn charge

A Niagara Falls woman has filed a new lawsuit under the Child Victims Act alleging a teacher at a Catholic middle school stalked and tried to seduce her when she was in eighth grade.

Vanessa DeRosa, 29, who filed a similar lawsuit earlier this year, accused Christian M. Butler of sexually targeting her during the 2002-03 school year, when she was 13, in a suit filed against the diocese, Saint Dominic Savio Middle School and the Niagara Falls Catholic School Network.

Butler was sentenced in 2017 to 25 years in federal prison for attempted production of child pornography in Florida.

William A. Lorenz Jr., DeRosa’s attorney, explained that the earlier lawsuit was filed to avoid potential dismissal motions by the diocese but was voluntarily discontinued.

• • •

23 plaintiffs sue diocese, bishops and 11 priests

Twenty-three plaintiffs have joined together in a lawsuit alleging abuse in Catholic churches and schools and asserting that the Buffalo Diocese is hiding assets.

It names as defendants the diocese, Bishops Richard J. Malone and Edward U. Kmiec, 11 other priests and related diocese entities that possess financial resources.

Further, the lawsuit filed by attorney Kevin T. Stocker accuses the diocese of conducting an organized criminal conspiracy to gain profits.

Among the priests accused of wrongdoing are Ronald Silverio, Basil Ormsby, Florion Jasinski, Joseph Persich, David Bialkowski, Frederick Fingerle, Michael Harrington, William Stanton, Theodore Podson, Nelson Kinmartin and Ronald Sadjack.

Sadjack was suspended from ministry last year but after he was cleared by the diocese of wrongdoing he was allowed to return in December as pastor of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Clarence.

• • •

Three lawsuits against the Rev. Louis Hendricks

Three lawsuits accuse the Rev. Louis Hendricks of abusing three different children.

In one case, a plaintiff who participated in youth activities at St. Joseph Cathedral alleged the priest "engaged in unpermitted sexual contact" with the plaintiff in the 1960s and 1970s. The plaintiff said the abuse took place during 1964 and 1966, when the plaintiff was about 5 to 7, and also during 1972 to 1974, when the plaintiff was 13 to 16.

Hendricks is accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old from 1968 to 1969 at St. Joseph Cathedral in another lawsuit against the Diocese of Buffalo and St. Joseph Cathedral.

A third plaintiff accuses Hendricks of molestation while the victim was 6 to 10 and involved in youth programs at St. Joseph Cathedral from 1967 to 1970.

Hendricks, who died in 1990, has been identified by the Diocese of Buffalo as a priest accused of child sexual abuse.

• • •

Monsignor abused child for a decade, lawsuit says

A former Fredonia man alleges that he was molested for a decade, beginning when he was 12, by the late Monsignor Edward J. Walker at St. Joseph Church in Fredonia.

Attorney Jordan K. Merson filed court papers alleging that Walker would insist that the plaintiff sit on his lap and then would touch his genitals. The incidents allegedly began in 1953.

Walker, who died in 2002, is on the Buffalo Diocese's list of credibly accused priests.

• • •

Suit: The Rev. Roy K. Ronald is accused

A plaintiff from Belmont accuses the Rev. Roy K. Ronald of “unpermitted sexual conduct” from 1982 to 1986, when the victim was 11 to 14.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff came into contact with Ronald while engaged in youth programs at St. Mary Parish, which was later absorbed into Holy Family Parish in Belmont.

Ronald died in 2013 and was placed on the diocese’s list of credibly accused child molesters in 2018.

• • •

Lawsuit alleges abuse 71 years ago

An accusation against the Rev. Francis T. Hogan appears to be the oldest – dating back 71 years – of those in Child Victims Act lawsuits filed Wednesday.

In a lawsuit against the Buffalo Diocese, a plaintiff who was not named alleges that Hogan abused him in 1948 to 1949 at St. John's Church in Jamestown. The victim, who had been an altar boy, was about 9 to 10 at the time, the suit said.

Hogan died in 2010. In 2018, the diocese identified Hogan as a priest who had been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

• • •

Abuse in Niagara Falls alleged

A lawsuit alleges that the Rev. Florian A. Jasinski, a priest at St. Stanislaus Kostka in Niagara Falls, engaged in "unpermitted sexual contact" with a plaintiff who was 8 to 9 in 1982 to 1983. The plaintiff participated in church and youth activities at St. Stanislaus.

In 2018, the diocese said Jasinski was credibly accused of molesting minors. Jasinski died in 1983.

• • •

Rev. Gerald P. Sheehan accused in suit

The late Rev. Gerald P. Sheehan is accused of molesting a 7-year-old victim in 1973 while at St. Martin of Tours in South Buffalo, a lawsuit alleges.

Sheehan, whose name has surfaced before as a likely abuser, died in 2006. He had spent 42 years as a priest.

The diocese in 2018 said Sheehan had been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. Sheehan died in 2006.

• • •

Another lawsuit targets the Rev. Norbert Orsolits

A lawsuit alleges the Rev. Norbert Orsolits sexually abused a plaintiff who was 13 or 14 in 1968 and attending St. John the Evangelist in Buffalo.

Orsolits in 2018 admitted to a Buffalo News reporter that he had sexual contact with minors over the years – “probably dozens,” he said – but said it was consensual.

• • •

13 plaintiffs accuse priests, 1 nun in 1 lawsuit

Matthew Scott Heldwein and a dozen other defendants are suing the Diocese of Buffalo in a sweeping lawsuit that names schools and churches, and accuses a number of priests and a nun of abuse.

Heldwein accuses the Rev. Luke Rutter of abusing him at St. Francis High School. Rutter was a Franciscan order priest who taught at St. Francis High School in the 1980s and died in 2000 at age 51. The diocese has not identified Rutter as a priest credibly accused of molesting children.

The lawsuit also includes allegations from 12 other accusers against a dozen others. The accused include these priests: William Ward, Joseph Schieder, William Stanton, Norbert Orsolits, Donald Becker, James Spielman, James Hayes, Pascal Ipolito and Robert Moss. Also accused are a nun at Corpus Christi Parish, identified only as “Sister Julia” or “Sister Julieta;” an unnamed choir director at Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Scott Mitchell, a teacher at the former Holy Angels Academy.

The suit does not include references to the time period when the alleged actions were said to have taken place. Attorneys told The Buffalo News the alleged abuse by Mitchell happened in about 1994 and 1995; by the choir director between 1965 and 1969; and by the nun about 1956 and 1957.

• • •

3 people accuse Rev. Joseph Friel of abuse

The Rev. Joseph Friel preyed on a series of children at two churches in the middle to late 1960s, according to lawsuits filed on Wednesday by three different people.

Friel abused a 13-year-old parishioner at Our Lady of Victory National Shrine in 1966, one plaintiff alleges. The same year and into 1967, Friel abused a child about 12 years old at Fourteen Holy Helpers in Cheektowaga, according to another lawsuit.

A third plaintiff, Chris Szuflita, alleges that Friel abused him at Fourteen Holy Helpers from 1967 to 1969, starting when he was 14. Szuflita in 1994 unsuccessfully sued the diocese, seeking $2 million in damages for the harm caused by Friel. But he dropped his case after diocese attorneys argued that it violated the state’s statute of limitations.

• • •

Nun accused of molesting child

A victim identified in court papers as AB 128 Doe claims that he or she was repeatedly molested by a North Tonawanda nun in the 1950s.

The lawsuit charged that a nun, identified in court papers only as Sister Claudia, SSJ, with the Sisters of St. Joseph, molested the child from 1956 through 1958, beginning when the child was 6. The nun served in programs working with youngsters at Ascension Church in North Tonawanda, the suit says.

• • •

Former pastor at Most Precious Blood accused

A lawsuit alleges that Monsignor J. Grant Higgins, who served as pastor from 1983 until 1997 at Most Precious Blood Church in Angola, sexually abused a child.

The lawsuit alleges Higgins engaged in "unpermitted sexual contact" with the plaintiff in 1990 to 1991 when the plaintiff was 9 and 10 years old.

Higgins, who died in 2016, was identified by the diocese last year as being credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors. He was one of four former priests at Most Precious Blood in that category.

• • •

Ex-Lockport school priest publicly accused for first time

A man from Santa Rosa, Calif., has alleged he was sexually abused in the early to mid-1970s by a priest and wrestling coach at what was then St. Francis DeSales Catholic High School in Lockport, according to a lawsuit.

The lawsuit against the diocese, DeSales Catholic School and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales accuses the Rev. Lehr Barkenquest of abusing the teenager, including during wrestling practice. The man alleges that he told a school administrator about the abuse when it started, but nothing was done to stop it.

Barkenquest died in January, according to an obituary on He started teaching in Lockport in 1968, later becoming school principal. He also taught in Toledo, Ohio, and was a pastor in Clarklake, Mich., according to his obituary.

• • •

Former altar boy files lawsuit

A North Buffalo man who says he was sexually abused by a priest for about a year starting when he was 8 is suing the diocese, St. Edmund Church and St. Christopher Church.

David J. Harvey, who was an altar boy at the time, alleges that the Rev. David J. Peter molested and raped him from around 1978 through 1979 in the Town of Tonawanda church then known as St. Edmund, according to the lawsuit.

• • •

The Rev. Edward L. Kazmierczak named in suit

Monsignor Edward L. Kazmierczak is accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old parishioner of St. Casimir Church in Kaisertown for about a year, starting in 1975. A lawsuit names the Diocese of Buffalo and St. Casimir as defendants. Kazmierczak died in 2001.

• • •

Diocese sued over alleged abuse from 1955

The Rev. Francis X. Baumgarten is accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a 13-year-old child from 1955 to 1956. The lawsuit does not indicate where the alleged abuse took place, but says Baumgarten was employed by Nativity of Our Lord in Orchard Park and by the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary at the time.

Baumgarten died in 1989 after 53 years as a priest, much of it teaching at the seminary. The lawsuit names the Diocese of Buffalo, Nativity of Our Lord and the seminary as defendants.

• • •

Victim says he told bishop about abuse

Angelo J. Ervolina accused Monsignor Michael J. Harrington, the longtime priest at Immaculate Conception Church in Buffalo, of molesting him in 1965 when he was 10 and Harrington took him on a trip to New York City.

Ervolina alleges in his lawsuit he told Bishop James A. McNulty about the abuse shortly after it happened because he delivered newspapers to McNulty’s house.

The diocese allowed Harrington to serve as pastor of Immaculate Conception Church for 25 years until he retired in 1985. It didn't identify Harrington as a child molester until March 2018. Harrington died in 1989.

• • •

Former East Aurora teacher accused of abusing student

A woman who was a student at East Aurora Middle School in the 1970s says in a lawsuit that her gym teacher molested her when she was about 13.

The plaintiff, now living in Hull, Mass., accuses Kathleen A. Kirk of having sexual contact with her, primarily in the teacher’s home or in the victim’s home, from 1973 to 1975.

“First I’m hearing of it,” said Kirk, who is now 70 and no longer teaches for the district. “So no, I really don’t have any comment.”

According to the complaint, the victim was contacted by the East Aurora district in 1982 and told it was investigating Kirk, and the teacher later admitted sleeping with the student. But Kirk was not immediately removed from her position, the complaint said.

• • •

Former St. Francis High priest accused

A man who was a student at St. Francis High School in Hamburg is accusing the Rev. Michael Lewandowski, who was a teacher and wrestling coach, of repeatedly sexually abusing him, starting in 1971.

The lawsuit alleges that Lewandowski would fondle the student while the two were wrestling. "On multiple occasions, Lewandowski insisted Plaintiff drink wine prior to these acts of sexual abuse," the lawsuit stated. The suit alleged that the victim reported the abuse to the principal at St. Francis but the principal "ignored" his complaint and that the abuse continued.

Lewandowski was suspended from any public ministry in 2014 after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor. According to Buffalo Diocese records, Lewandowski taught at St. Francis from 1976 to 1982, taught at Cardinal O'Hara High School in Buffalo from 1982 to 1989, and then returned to St. Francis until 1991.

• • •

Priest that diocese returned to parish is accused

Before the Child Victims Act, Matthew Golden tried suing the Buffalo Diocese as a public nuisance. That case was dismissed. Now that the act has opened a window for lawsuits, Golden has filed a new complaint alleging that the Rev. Dennis Riter abused him while Riter served at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Buffalo.

Through an attorney, Riter has denied Golden’s allegations. The priest was suspended in 2018 but allowed to return as pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Dunkirk after a diocesan investigation did not substantiate allegations against him.

In his lawsuit, Golden says Riter engaged in “unpermitted sexual contact” with him for three years, beginning in 1996 when he was 10.

• • •

Priest who admitted molesting 'dozens' named in suit

The priest whose admissions to a Buffalo News reporter about molesting “probably dozens” of boys helped spark the recent surge in clergy abuse allegations is accused in a lawsuit of abusing a boy from about 1979 to 1981.

Jonpaul Okal alleges the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits abused him when he was about 9 to 11 years old and participated in church and youth activities at St. John Vianney in Orchard Park, which is named in the lawsuit along with the diocese.

• • •

Lawsuit: Priest helped raise child, then abused him

A priest assigned to help a woman raise her four children in the 1970s allegedly sexually abused one of them for five years, beginning when the boy was 10. A lawsuit says the Rev. Linus Hennessy abused the boy in his home when his mother was at work and at Bishop Timon High School in South Buffalo, where Hennessy was assigned.

The priest told the boy after each incident not to tell anyone what happened and offered the boy money to keep quiet, the suit alleges.

Hennessy died in 1983. The diocese has been paying for the plaintiff’s counseling since 2008, when he reported the abuse to the diocese. Bishop Timon, the diocese, and the Franciscan Friars are named as defendants.

• • •

Lawsuit: Priest forced brothers to have sex with each other

Two brothers were raped by their priest and were forced to rape each other while the priest watched, the siblings allege in a lawsuit.

The Rev. William F. White III allegedly sexually abused the boys for nearly a decade at Annunciation Church, now known as Our Lady of Hope, in the Black Rock section of Buffalo, the suit says.

The brothers say White began grooming them in 1982, when they were younger than 11. Within two years, he was abusing them in the rectory as well as in his parents’ house in South Buffalo and in a retreat in West Valley, they allege. He often gave them drugs and alcohol before and after the abuse and paid them to keep quiet, the lawsuit alleges.

White was suspended from priestly duties in 1993, after the boys’ mother reported the abuse to the diocese. He died in 2016. The diocese last year identified him as being credibly accused of molesting children.

• • •

The Rev. Bernard M. Mach accused in suit

A lawsuit accuses the late Rev. Bernard M. Mach of molesting a 7-year-old child in 1974 at the old St. Gerard’s Church in Buffalo.

Attorney Steven Boyd said the plaintiff came from a “devout Catholic family” that trusted Mach.

Mach, who died in 2004, is on the Buffalo Diocese list of priests credibly accused of molesting children. The diocese previously settled a $2 million lawsuit filed in 1993 that accused Mach of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in the rectory of St. Mary’s Church in Lockport.

• • •

Jesuit priest accused

The Rev. James Gould, a Jesuit priest, was accused in a lawsuit of molesting a 13-year-old child at St. Ann’s Church in Buffalo in the mid-1970s. The Jesuit Northeast Province last year identified Gould as a priest who has been credibly accused of molesting a child.

• • •

Former Cardinal Dougherty High priest accused

When Gary Astridge was 8 in 1963, the abuse by the Rev. Edward Townsend began, and it continued until 1967, when the victim was 11, a lawsuit against the Buffalo Diocese and the former Cardinal Dougherty High School alleges.

Because of the “culture of the Catholic Church,” Astridge felt pressure not to report the abuse, the lawsuit says.

Townsend belonged to a religious order based in California, the Eudists, which has not responded to The News' requests for comment about Townsend. Townsend died in 1998.

• • •

The Rev. Donald W. Becker named in suit

Michael Patrick Eames of South Buffalo is suing the Buffalo Diocese, SS. Peter and Paul Parish Community, St. John XXIII Parish, also known as the St. Bonaventure Parish, and retired priest Donald W. Becker, who now lives in Fort Myers, Fla.

Becker, who the diocese has said has been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, has previously told The Buffalo News that he never molested any children.

Eames alleges he was a victim of sexual harassment, abuse and violence by Becker around 1974, when Eames was around 15. Becker, the legal complaint says, forced Eames into sex after plying him with liquor at the priest’s cabin in Java Center.

The lawsuit indicates Eames notified the diocese about what happened in September 2007, and the organization has paid for his counseling and medication since 2012.

• • •

Lawsuit: Priest took boy to Beach Boys concert, abused him

A priest who remains suspended from active ministry due to what the diocese determined to be credible allegations took a teenager to a Beach Boys concert in Toronto in 1975 and abused him at a hotel, according to a lawsuit filed by an Elma man.

The Rev. Pascal D. Ipolito, who was suspended by the diocese in June, served at Annunciation Catholic Church in Elma at the time of the alleged abuse, according to the suit. Ipolito was accused of serving the teen large quantities of whiskey sours in a hotel room and abusing the teen.

• • •

Lawsuit names former Cardinal Dougherty High priest

Kevin Koscielniak alleges in a lawsuit he was molested by the Rev. James Burson at the former Cardinal Dougherty High School in Buffalo.

Koscielniak, who now lives in suburban Detroit, alleges the abuse occurred “in multiple locations” around school grounds and church facilities around 1979, when he was about 15 years old.

Burson is among the priests whom the Diocese of Buffalo identifies as being credibly accused of abuse. He was part of the Eudist Order and, now retired in California, has not returned telephone messages.

• • •

4 priests, 2 teachers named in suit 

An Erie County man now in his early 60s alleges he was raped and molested numerous times by four different priests, including two who are currently pastors at churches, beginning when he was 10 or 11 years old.

Court papers name Monsignor Peter Popadick, who is pastor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church and who was the secretary for former Buffalo Diocese Bishop Edward D. Head, as one of the priests who raped and molested a boy, beginning when he was 10 or 11.

The Rev. Joseph Frank Tuchols, the Rev. Paul Nogaro and a former wrestling coach only identified as “Father Mike” are also named as the alleged molesters.

Attorney Paul K. Barr alleges in court papers that the child was also molested by two lay teachers at St. Mary of Sorrows Church and School in Buffalo: Thomas Krachowiak and a teacher who was only partially identified.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff was molested at St. Mary of Sorrows and at the old Bishop Fallon High School in Buffalo.

Popadick, 74, who was Head’s secretary for more than 20 years until 1995, declined to comment through a church secretary.

Nogaro, 74, who is pastor at St. Stephen Church on Grand Island, denied the allegations, saying he has never molested anyone at any of the churches where he has worked.

“I don’t know who is accusing me, but I absolutely deny it because I have never done this to anyone in 48 years as a priest,” Nogaro told The Buffalo News. “Even though the truth is on my side, this destroys my life. … I don’t think it is fair that someone can make an accusation like this against you without even using their name.”

Barr said he has no evidence that the priests were acting in collaboration when they abused the victim.

“This kid had a difficult childhood, and things were going on in his home that made him very accessible to predators,” Barr said.

• • •

Woman accuses Lutheran minister of abuse

A Western New York woman alleges Bruce A. Connolly, a youth pastor and director of Christian education at First Trinity Lutheran Church in the Town of Tonawanda, raped and sexually abused her from about 1978 to 1981 starting when she was about 13, according to a lawsuit.

The woman said the abuse ended when she stopped attending the church in 1981. The lawsuit, against the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the church’s eastern district and Connolly, alleges he was employed at a church in Minnesota in 1989 when she informed the church about the abuse.

Connolly admitted his guilt and apologized to her for the abuse in a January 1990 letter, and his wife apologized in a letter in 1992, the victim alleges in the lawsuit. The woman received pastoral counseling and reimbursement from the church for additional counseling. Connolly continued to work for the church “and to be around children” as late as 2016, according to the suit. The suit was filed by attorney Will Lorenz of the HoganWillig law firm.

• • •

Sisters sue Buffalo Diocese, Jesuits 

Two sisters allege that a Jesuit priest at St. Ann’s Church in Buffalo abused them over a year in the 1970s when they were 7 and 8 years old. He always abused the two together, they allege, sometimes getting them drunk on communion wine; taking them into the back room at the church on Emslie Street; making them undress in front of him, then groping and fondling them in his lap.

The priest, whose identity is unknown, also would sometimes take the two girls to a nearby pool and watch while they changed their clothes in the back seat of his car, they allege, and then kiss and grope them in his car.

Last year, the women contacted the Buffalo Diocese, which then informed the Jesuits about the abuse, according to the lawsuit against the diocese, the Jesuits and St. Ann's Church. The sisters flew to New York City in December 2018 to meet with the Jesuits.

• • • Five men sue Boy Scouts, Greater Niagara Frontier Council

In one of the Erie County lawsuits, five men sued the Boy Scouts of America and the Greater Niagara Frontier Council, alleging sexual abuse by four men who were scoutmasters or assistant scoutmasters in the '60s and '70s.

A Portland, Ore., man alleges Robert Eberhardt, a scoutmaster, sexually abused him in the late 1960s when he was 11 to 14 years old, according to the suit.

A Pittsford man alleges Robert Moll Jr., an assistant scoutmaster, sexually abused him on scout camping trips when he was 12 or 13, from about 1973 through 1976.

A man from North Tonawanda alleges Moll sexually abused him on camping trips when he was about 13 to 14.

A man from Hamlin alleges Norman Grimm, a scoutmaster, sexually abused him when he was around 11 to 12 years old from about 1974 to 1975. Grimm was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2008 for molesting three young boys in his Ryan Street home.

Robert O’Donnell, of the Town of Boston, alleges he was sexually abused by Ronald Williams, a scoutmaster, when he was about 13 or 14 around 1977 to 1978. Williams was convicted in 2006 on an indecent assault charge and is serving a 15-year prison sentence. O’Donnell told The News in May that he planned to file a lawsuit.

The Greater Niagara Frontier Council on Wednesday directed requests for comment to the national organization, the Boy Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts did not respond to the specific allegations in the lawsuit Wednesday.

• • •

Cheryl Bentley v. Buffalo Diocese

Cheryl Bentley was 8 when, she said, the late Monsignor James P. Hayes, who was the priest at All Saints Church in Riverside, used to pull her aside in the hallways of All Saints School and kiss her. At first, it was on the cheek. Later, it was on her mouth.

“I was a kid,” Bentley said last week. “I was innocent.”

That was just the beginning, said Bentley, now 49, and living in Wyoming County.

By the time she was in the fifth grade, Bentley said, the priest would make her come to his office in the back of the church, where he would force her to sit on his lap and molest her with his hands. She also said he forced her to perform oral sex.

While her parents didn’t attend church, she said, her mother often worked or volunteered at the church and school to offset the costs of tuition. Her mother would sell lottery tickets for the church, Bentley said, and hand the money to her to take to Hayes at his rectory. Bentley said he would molest her on those occasions.

The abuse went on until she graduated from the school in eighth grade.

Bentley filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Buffalo on Wednesday.

Hayes died in 1988. Last year, the Buffalo Diocese named him among a list of 42 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

Bentley said her brother texted her a link to the article with Hayes’ name. “There’s your proof,” he wrote.

• • •

James Bottlinger v. Buffalo Diocese, St. Mary of the Assumption

The diocese offered James Bottlinger $650,000 – the largest settlement award in its recently concluded $17.5 million program compensating childhood victims of clergy sex abuse.

Bottlinger rejected the offer, calling it “insignificant” in the face of the abuse he endured and saying he preferred a full accounting of how and why the diocese allowed the Rev. Michael Freeman at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster to continue in ministry for so long.

On Wednesday, Steve Boyd, his attorney, held up his iPhone so that Bottlinger could watch his case being filed via FaceTime from Japan.



Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.