Death Threat Sends Priest into Hiding
Letter Did Not Specifically Refer to Sex-Abuse Allegations, Sources Say

By Lou Michel
Buffalo News
December 20, 1993

LOCKPORT — The Rev. Bernard M. Mach, pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church, 5 Saxton St., has gone into hiding because he has received a death threat.

The threat, which was conveyed in an anonymous letter to Father Mach, arrived several days after a $ 2.9 million lawsuit was filed by a Lockport couple and their 14-year-old son claiming the priest sexually abused the boy two years ago in the church rectory.

Father Mach, 55, and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo were listed as respondents in the civil lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Erie County.

A copy of the letter has been given to the Niagara County Sheriff's Department, according to a friend of Father Mach.

Friday afternoon's Mass in St. Mary's was canceled because of the death threat, and other weekend Masses were celebrated by another priest.

"Arrangements were made for coverage of weekend Masses and Father Mach did not participate," said Terrence M. Connors, attorney for the diocese. He declined to comment further.

The anonymous letter, according to officials who asked not to be identified, states the death threat will be carried out within three months because the priest does not deserve to live.

However, the letter does not specifically refer to the sexual- abuse allegations made against Father Mach, the sources said.

Father Mach told parishioners and friends he has received more than 200 letters of support since the suit was filed Dec. 8.

A Niagara County grand jury reviewed the case and decided against filing felony charges because of insufficient evidence. The diocese also conducted an investigation and could find no evidence to substantiate the claims.


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