District Attorney: "If you are a victim, you should call me'

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - The Erie County District Attorney wants victims of sex abuse to come to him first, not the church. 

"Just this weekend, i saw in my own church bulletin and I heard from the pastor who spoke at the pulpit, about how the catholic church has set up a hotline," John Flynn, Erie County District Attorney, said.

The hotline Flynn is talking about is confidential. It was set up by the Diocese for individuals wanting to file a sexual abuse complaint

"Now I applaud their efforts, all right, but we need transparency here, ok? and I would tell an individual, if you are a victim, you should call me," he said.

Flynn says if the sexual abuse allegation is brought directly to his office the matter will be investigated.

"If it's within the five year statute of limitations, or the victim's not yet 23 years old, it potentially is a crime that I can investigate," Flynn said. 

Last week, Bishop Richard Malone and attorney Terrance Connors held a news conference during which they reported receiving 15 to 20 sex abuse claims since 2005. Flynn said none were reported to law enforcement.

The Diocese sent 7 Eyewitness News this statement: 
"The diocese has had a signed memorandum of understanding since 2003 with the district attorneys from all 8 counties of wny that we are to report new allegations to them, but not old cases. even though some cases have been brought to our attention in recent years, they pertain to actions from decades ago and thus the district attorney may not have been notified."

"I applaud the church in their actions, I applaud the church by setting up a hotline and having a mechanism for people to come forward, but an internal church hotline is not enough. You need to call me, as well," Flynn said.

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