Priests of Buffalo Diocese Continue to Face Sex-Abuse Accusations
The Child Victims Act opened a window, which closes Aug. 14, allowing child sex-abuse victims to file abuse lawsuits long after their statute of limitations had ended.
BUFFALO, N. Y. — Since June, more than 90 sex-abuse lawsuits involving the Diocese of Buffalo have been filed under New York’s Child Victims Act.
A July 27 statement from Stacey Benson, an attorney at Jeff Anderson & Associates, called on Bishop Michael Fisher “to publicly identify all perpetrators of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo before the Aug. 13 Child Victims Act deadline because we know there are more names the diocese has yet to release.”
The statement includes the names of 24 alleged abusers. It said 13 are believed to be deceased and that the whereabouts of the remaining 11 are unconfirmed.
The Buffalo Diocese declared bankruptcy in February 2020 after more than 250 clergy-abuse lawsuits were filed against it under the Child Victims Act. The 2019 law opened a “lookback” window, which closes Aug. 14, allowing child sex-abuse victims to file abuse lawsuits long after their statute of limitations had ended.
A federal bankruptcy judge on March 31 ruled that 36 abuse lawsuits against Buffalo Catholic parishes and schools would remain on hold until Oct. 1, 2021, so as not to interfere with settlement payouts that were a part of the bankruptcy process.
The diocese and its former bishops are also facing a lawsuit from the state of New York.
In November 2020, the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, sued the diocese in the state supreme court; Bishop Emeritus Richard Malone, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Edward Grosz and Buffalo’s then-apostolic administrator, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, were all named in the lawsuit.
The state alleged that the diocese, Bishop Malone and Bishop Grosz all failed properly to investigate claims of clergy sex abuse, to monitor priests with credible abuse accusations, and to take action against priests credibly accused.
In addition, the state is seeking restitution from Bishop Malone and Bishop Grosz and a ban on their serving “a secular fiduciary role in a nonprofit or charitable organization” in the state.
A judge ruled in February that Bishop Malone and Bishop Grosz must pay their own legal fees but may still have the right to seek reimbursement from the diocese’s insurers for their legal costs, The Buffalo News reported.