Erie County Man Sets Record Straight about Alleged Sexual Abuse by Priest
By Madison Elliott
August 24, 2019
A Springville man spoke openly for the first time Saturday after filing a lawsuit against the Diocese of Buffalo under the Children's Victim Act.
Richard Brownell, 62, alleges Father John R. Aurelio abused him when he was only 11-years-old. He says it started in 1968 when he was a parishioner at St. Gerard's.
Aurelio, who was not a priest at St. Gerard’s at the time but instead at St. Leo’s, was introduced to Brownell through Father Bernard Mach.
On Saturday, Brownell recounted times when Aurelio allegedly gave him marijuana, alcohol and took advantage of him. He says Mach knew of the abuse and did nothing. Mach himself was also accuse of sexually assaulting a young boy in the early 90s.
In court documents, Brownell accuses the church of protecting Aurelio by "providing plaintiff with safe environment to in which to participate in in educational, youth and recreational activities."
In 1993, Brownell spoke to a local TV news station about his abuse, but said he was able to fend off Aurelio’s advances. Now, after hearing the stories of other victims, he was inspired him to speak out.
"I'm still humiliated. I still feel the humiliation, but no more,” said Brownell. “I've come forward to lend my voice to those victims who haven't found theirs yet."
St. Bernard’s closed in 2008 and merged into Blessed Trinity Catholic Church.
Brownell is suing the Diocese of Buffalo, Blessed Trinity and St. Leo’s for allegedly not doing enough to protect children.
Spectrum News has reached out to the Diocese for comment.