DA says Buffalo priest was "creepy" but not criminal

Will recommend diocese keep him away from kids
Posted at 4:52 PM, Jun 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-20 17:14:16-04

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn Jr. said Wednesday that a Buffalo priest acted "creepy" in touching a young girl in January.

But Flynn said the behavior of the priest does not rise to the level of criminality and so the priest -- who he refused to identify -- will not face criminal charges.

"While his conduct wasn’t criminal, I would say that to me his conduct is creepy," Flynn said, adding that he believed the priest was retired but still saying Mass in various parishes. 

The alleged victim told someone at her school about the priest's contact, which Flynn said was alleged to have involved “some sort of touching,” he said.

Flynn said he has no doubts about the truth of the claim.

"I believe the girl...there's nothing false about this," he said.

But he said there was not enough evidence to even rise to the level of a harassment violation.

Still, Flynn said he will recommend the diocese take steps to keep the priest away from children.

"I would hope that he doesn’t say Mass anymore," Flynn said. "I would hope that the diocese would find fit to not allow him to be around children."

Officials at the Diocese of Buffalo are not saying who the priest is, where the incident occurred and what steps they are taking to protect children in the future.

Spokesman George Richert said in an email, “We have reached out to the DA's office and are awaiting more information.”

Buffalo's clerical sexual abuse scandal broke in March, leading the Catholic diocese to acknowledge that 42 of its priests have been "removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse with a minor."

The total number of priests accused of sexual misconduct has grown and now approaches 70 priests in Buffalo.

Since the scandal, Flynn has been contacted by 15 to 20 “individuals who felt they were violated by a priest in the past," but all of the alleged crimes except the alleged touching of the young girl fell outside of the statute of limitations.

Flynn said he encourages all victims to come forward and report any inappropriate contact by priests and others.

"I want to know about them all," he said. "Let me know, because I will look into it and tell you if it's a crime or not."