Sex Abuse Crisis: Rev. Donald Becker’s Case Now in Rome

By Matt Surtel
Batavia News
October 23, 2019

BUFFALO — The case of the Rev. Donald Becker is currently in Rome, according to a revised list of priests accused of sexual abuse.

The newly reformatted list was released Tuesday by the Buffalo Diocese. It provides some information not previously available.

Although Becker, 77, was removed from ministry in 2002 and is described as retired, the case in Rome would decide his future standing within the church.

Becker served at St. Mary’s Church in Batavia from 1992 to 2002 when he was placed on sick leave in the aftermath of sexual abuse allegations.

He has been named in a total of six lawsuits filed since Aug. 14. In one, Becker is accused of molesting a boy beginning when he was 11 years old.

All living diocesan priests with substantiated allegations remain on administrative leave, according to diocese’s latest news release. That means they may not dress like a priest or function as a priest.

Their cases — including Becker’s in this instance — are sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome for a final judgment.

Only Rome can remove a priest permanently from ministry, according to the diocese. That could mean either return to the lay state or a life of prayer and penance — a restricted lifestyle with no possible public ministry as a priest.

The reformatted list also provides some additional vague details about the priests accused of abusing minors sexually — whether they are accused of one or more cases llof abuse.

Area priests on the updated list include:

¦ Thomas L. Kemp, who died this past March, has more than one allegation against him, according to the list.

Kemp served at St. Mary Church in Holley from 1977-80, St. Mary in Silver Springs from 1981-91 and at Immaculate Conception in East Bethany from 1992-2004, when he retired and was removed from ministry.

¦ Florian Jasinski also has more than one allegation against him. He had served at St. Stanislaus Kostka in Perry from 1975 to 1983, when he died.

¦ Norbert Orsolits, who admitted molesting dozens of boys, began as a missionary at St. Joseph’s Church in Bliss. He is named in numerous suits and has more than one accusation against him.

His case will go to Rome.

¦ Robert Wood has more than one allegation against him. He was removed from St. Joseph in Varysburg in 2003 after being accused.

His case was sent to Rome and but he died this past June.

¦ Mark M. Friel, who served at St. Mary’s in East Arcade, has one allegation against him. He was removed from ministry in 2003 and his case is in Rome.

¦ Bernard Mach, who also served at St. Mary’s in Arcade, has more than one allegation against him. He was removed from ministry in 1993 and died in 2004.

¦ Gerald Jasinski, who is the only Diocese of Buffalo priest convicted of molesting a child after a 1986 incident in Sheldon.

He has more than one accusation against him and was laicized in 1988.

¦ Richard Keppeler is accused of abusing a child at Notre Dame High School in Batavia and in Buffalo. He also served at St. Brigid in Bergen and St. Michael in South Byron. He was removed from ministry in 2003 and is deceased.

Names of deceased priests with a single allegation after their death are not included in the list as part of the diocese’s policy.

“This is not to minimize the allegation, but to point out how difficult it is to substantiate an allegation,” the news release reads. “Every accused person is entitled to due process and to defense of his reputation. Yet, a deceased priest cannot defend his good name. However, if a deceased priest receives two or more allegations his name will be added to the list.”








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