New Abuse Claim Targets Priest
Rev. Aurelio Faces Complaint by West Seneca Center Resident

By Lou Michel
Buffalo News
December 29, 1993

A complaint that the Rev. John R. Aurelio sexually abused a resident at West Seneca Developmental Center was filed Tuesday afternoon with West Seneca police.

"We had an allegation Monday night that he (Father Aurelio) was involved in a sexual abuse," said Thomas M. Zielinski, the center's associate director. "We called police Tuesday afternoon, and they are now here taking a formal statement."

Zielinski did not offer details, so the timing and the nature of the alleged abuse were not immediately known.

Raymond J. Janicke, the facility's chief of safety and security services, filed the complaint with West Seneca Police Officer Kenneth Morano, according to Zielinski and West Seneca police.

Morano said he spoke briefly to Janicke about the complaint from a mentally retarded resident. He added that West Seneca detectives planned to interview the resident and developmental center staff members today.

"So far, this is all very preliminary," he said.

He added that he was under instructions from superiors not to discuss details of the complaint.

Zielinski said the center will cooperate with police in the investigation.

"We want to let them (police) take the first action, and we do not want to impede their investigation, and so we will cooperate fully, though under state mental hygiene law we must conduct our own investigation concurrently," he said.

Father Aurelio could not be reached to comment Tuesday after extensive efforts to reach him. Officials for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese declined to comment on the allegation.

The latest sex-abuse allegation comes in the wake of Father Aurelio's admission Dec. 17 that he and the Rev. Bernard M. Mach sodomized three adolescent boys 15 to 20 years ago at a home the priests shared in East Aurora.

Father Aurelio, 56, was employed at the center as its Catholic chaplain from March 1969 to June 1986. Center officials last week said his work was "satisfactory" and marked by "good conduct."

They also had urged anyone currently or formerly associated with the center who had concerns regarding Father Aurelio to contact the facility.

Zielinski stressed that, until Monday night, the center had not received any allegations of sexual abuse against Father Aurelio.

"There was nothing to indicate anything other than satisfactory work from him until this singular allegation was made," Zielinski said.


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