Priest Faces New Claim of Sexual Abuse from Man

By Lou Michel
Buffalo News
December 14, 1993

A Buffalo man told Niagara County investigators Monday that he was sexually molested by the Rev. Bernard M. Mach and another man in the early 1970s and is willing to take a lie detector test to support his claim.

Father Mach's attorney, Daniel T. Roach, denied the claim and said: "We are confident this good priest will be vindicated in the proper forum, which is in court."

The priest told about 50 worshipers at a Mass on Monday afternoon in St. Mary's Catholic Church that he had "no idea" what his latest accuser "is talking about."

The pastor said: "I have to be honest with you. I'm devastated. I don't think there are any tears left in me."

Sources close to Father Mach said the priest also had said he was willing to take a lie detector test "to prove he is innocent."

The accuser, whose identity is not being released by authorities, was interviewed by two members of the Niagara County Child Abuse Strike Force in the Buffalo law offices of Jennifer A. Coleman, the attorney representing a Lockport couple who claim their 14-year-old son was sexually abused by Father Mach two years ago.

"Two members of the strike force interviewed the man and they will be making a report to me, but as for a viable criminal prosecution in the case, it does not appear likely," said Niagara County District Attorney Matthew J. Murphy III. "The statute of limitation for felony charges is five years and the individual said this occurred about 20 years ago."

A Niagara County grand jury reviewed the case involving the Lockport boy and decided not to indict Father Mach, 55, because there was no significant evidence to back the allegations and no other claims that he sexually abused other individuals.

Ms. Coleman said the Buffalo man contacted her after reading over the weekend about Father Mach's denial of the Lockport family's claim.

"He came forward because he admires the courage of this boy and wanted to support him. When it happened to him at the age of 14, he felt there was no one he could tell. He is outraged at Father Mach's denials," Ms. Coleman said.

The Lockport family filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Erie County against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and Father Mach, seeking $ 2.9 million in damages. It claims Father Mach sexually abused the youth, who was 12 at the time, during an overnight stay in the church rectory in late October or early November 1991.

Father Mach said, however, that the boy never stayed overnight at the rectory and that all of the allegations are untrue.

Ms. Coleman said the Buffalo man told her Father Mach and another man, who is not being identified, molested him when the priest was assigned to St. Gerard's Catholic Church, 1190 E. Delavan Ave., Buffalo.

"This man was able to give me a lot of specific factual details on the setting, a private residence where the incident occurred, and on who was present. It is terribly upsetting for him to know this guy (Father Mach) is still doing this," Ms. Coleman said.

"This man has not sought any compensation from the diocese."

Father Mach emotionally declared he was innocent of the Lockport family's allegations during an afternoon Mass on Friday attended by an estimated 350 supporters in St. Mary's. An estimated 1,000 people have signed petitions that support Father Mach.


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