Upon releasing a report identifying 13 priests already known for accusations of sexual abuse, an attorney and former priest-turned-advocate urged the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo Tuesday morning to end its policy of withholding the names of other clergy who allegedly carried out such conduct.
The law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates PA has released a report identifying and detailing the histories of 13 priests that already faced public accusations of sexual abuse. The report includes allegations, where each priest was assigned and when they were assigned to those parishes.
The purpose of releasing the report, said attorney Michael Reck, was to offer a starting point and urge the Diocese of Buffalo to "do the right thing" and release the names of others facing credible accusations.
"There are many, many individuals whose childhoods were affected by this trauma, who to this day still think they are the only one," said attorney Michael Reck. "They've never seen their abuser's name in public. They've never seen the accountability, the acknowledgment that this happened, it was wrong, and it was not their fault."
According to Reck, six of the 13 identified in their report Of the 13 priests highlighted, six are believed to be deceased, according to Reck. leading Reck to question the whereabouts of the seven surviving priests may remain a safety threat.
"Where are those seven individuals now? What safety protocols are in place on them? And what warnings have been made to the communities that they now inhabit?" he asked.
When announcing the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program earlier this month, Bishop Richard Malone stated he was consider the end of the diocesan policy of withholding the names of clergy facing credible accusations.
“A decision will be forthcoming very soon. The bishop is taking this very seriously,” said the Diocese Tuesday in a written statement.
The Anderson report also discusses the IRCP. While Reck welcomed the formation of the program, he and former priest Patrick Wall, now an advocate working with Jeff Anderson and Associates, pointed out that the program is only open to those who have already revealed their cases. They also noted the deadline of June 1 for qualified candidates to act.
Wall suggested the conditions of the program are unfair to the many more victims out there.
"Survivors do not operate on a timeline like everyone else," he said. "It should be when the survivor is ready to come forward. That should be the timeline. Many survivors, it takes them decades to be able to deal with that incredible trauma that happened to them."
A Diocesan spokesperson, in a written message to WBFO, explained that when a claim of abuse is forwarded that shows a semblance of truth, the priest accused is removed from active ministry and the case is reported to the appropriate district attorney, in accordance with an agreement with the eight counties within the Diocese of Buffalo.
“Since the announcement about the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, we have heard from a number of people, some of whom have filed claims,” said the Diocese in a written statement.