Priest on 'Medical Leave' after Sex Abuse Charges

By Dave Condren
Buffalo News
April 21, 1994

The Rev. Loville N. Martlock, a Catholic priest who served in several area high schools and parishes, is on leave after being accused of sexually abusing a young boy several years ago.

The allegations against Father Martlock were made by a Buffalo-area man who claims the priest, who was close to his family, began sexually abusing him when he was 8 years old. It occurred between 1974 and 1978, the victim alleges.

"He did everything short of sodomize me," the victim said in an interview. He said he was abused "more than 10 times."

Monsignor Robert J. Cunningham, chancellor of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, confirmed Wednesday that Father Martlock, 56, was placed on "medical leave" in October after "an allegation of inappropriate behavior was brought to the attention of the diocese." Father Martlock is now receiving treatment at an out-of-state residential facility, the chancellor said.

"He has not been suspended, but he is not exercising his faculties as a priest," said Monsignor Cunningham, noting that no other complaints have been received about Father Martlock.

Although he was young at the time of the incidents, the victim said he remembers being abused in the priests' residence at the former Cardinal Mindszenty High School, Dunkirk; in the rectory at Fourteen Holy Helpers Parish, West Seneca; and in motels along the East Coast during a week-long vacation trip with the priest.

At the time the allegation was made in October, Father Martlock was assigned as a religion teacher at Notre Dame High School in Batavia.

He also has taught at St. Mary's High School, Lancaster and Mindszenty High School.

Father Martlock is a former assistant director of the diocesan Department of Religious Education and spent three years as a missionary in Brazil.

In addition, he has served as pastor of St. John Fisher Parish, South Dayton, and St. Elizabeth's, Cherry Creek, and as administrator of St. Benedict the Moor, Buffalo. He also served as assistant pastor at St. John de LaSalle, Niagara Falls; St. Christopher's, Town of Tonawanda; Holy Family, Buffalo; and Infant of Prague, Cheektowaga. His first assignment after his ordination in 1963 was at St. John the Evangelist, Sinclairville.

Father Martlock lived at Fourteen Holy Helpers between 1972 and 1977 while he was assigned to the Department of Religious Education.

Father Martlock is the fourth Western New York priest whose name has surfaced publicly since December in connection with allegations of improprieties.

"I'm really amazed. All of the people are going to be shocked," said Monsignor Chester S. Frysiak, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Darien Center, where Father Martlock lived and served as a weekend assistant between August 1992 and last October.

"I have a lot of admiration for the guy. He was a conscientious priest. He gave spiritual, inspiring sermons," he said.

William Sutherland, acting principal of Notre Dame High School, said the staff and faculty there "wondered what was going on" when Father Martlock suddenly took a leave last fall, shortly after beginning his second year at the school.

"From what he had done here, we were very impressed with him," Sutherland said. "He was a very soft-spoken, decent man. He was very demanding as a teacher. He seemed like a good priest to me."

The accuser in Father Martlock's case said he decided last fall to tell his family about the abuse and report it to the diocese because "it has screwed up my life."

He also is hoping his story will fuel support for a change in the state statute of limitations to enable people who are sexually abused as children to file criminal charges and civil suits as adults.

Legislation co-sponsored by State Senator Dale M. Volker, R-Depew, and Assemblyman Vincent J. Graber, D-West Seneca, would achieve that objective, he said.

Proponents feel the statute provisions should be changed because children who are sexually abused frequently "are in a threatening situation which makes it impossible to come forward" until they are adults, observed Ted Hallman, an aide to Volker.

Father Martlock's accuser said the abuse inflicted on him by the priest has caused so much turmoil in his life that he performed poorly in high school and found it difficult to form close relationships with other people.

The young man said he is bitter because the diocese has rejected his request for compensation for pain and suffering resulting from the abuse.

"The diocese does not take complaints seriously. They just patronize you. If they were serious, they would try to make amends for the wrongs these priests have done to people," the victim complained.

Monsignor Cunningham confirmed the diocese has turned down a request for compensation.

"The policy of the diocese provides access to counseling. It does not include compensation for pain and suffering unless there is a demonstration of legal responsibility on the part of the diocese," Cunningham said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.