May 10, 2018
Another key decision-maker during the Bishop Head era is Donald W. Trautman.
Trautman served in top Buffalo diocesan posts (vicar general, chancellor and auxiliary bishop) during the 1970s and 1980s before the pope named him Bishop of the Diocese of Erie, Pa., in 1990.
Father Spielman, a priest who is alleged to have abused multiple boys in the Southern Tier, references Trautman in the letters obtained by 7 Eyewitness News, at one point telling Bishop Head that he would prefer to only receive communication through Trautman, and not Head.
According to those letters, which can be viewed by clicking this link, Trautman played a role in re-assigning Spielman after the priest was removed from a Jamestown church for allegedly abusing an altar boy.
Trautman, now retired from the Erie Diocese, is now under intense scrutiny as prosecutors have accused the diocese of covering up the alleged sex crimes of a former priest who was arrested Tuesday. Trautman has denied a cover-up.
James Faluszczak, a former priest in the Diocese of Erie, was not surprised to learn that Trautman held a top post in the Diocese of Buffalo during a time when priests were shuffled around after abuse allegations came to light.
Faluszczak, who now lives in Buffalo and has been outspoken on the issue of clerical sex abuse, said he was abused as a child by Father Daniel Martin, his childhood priest in Pennsylvania. The effects of the abuse led to alcohol problems and an arrest for driving while intoxicated.
After attending rehab, Faluszczak said Bishop Trautman in 2010 asked him to speak about his abuse at the hands of Father Martin.
“But Trautman felt that he should ask me, ‘How many times did Fr. Martin molest you?’ And I said, ‘Fifteen.’ And he [Trautman] said to me, his response, without missing a beat, was, ‘Oh thank God.’
“In that moment I was flabbergasted,” Faluszczak said. “I said Martin molested me 15 times, your response to me is, ‘Oh thank God?’ That is the stupidest thing you could say to a victim. And he was all flabbergasted and said, ‘Oh no, I just mean you’re lucky that it didn’t happen to you more...as if that was supposed to make me feel good.”
“Once is bad enough,” Faluszczak said. “I told him that was the stupidest thing that a human being could say, let alone a bishop.”
Trautman, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment for this story. Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone said in a written statement, “We have made great strides in regard to protection of young people and the handling of sexual abuse cases, especially since implementing the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”