BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A renowned Boston attorney is suing the Buffalo Diocese for $300 million on behalf of a Niagara County woman who said she was abused by a Franciscan priest in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mitchell Garabedian, made famous by the Academy Award-winning movie "Spotlight", has filed a lawsuit in state court against the Buffalo Diocese, the Conventual Franciscan religious order and Cardinal O'Hara High School.
The suit alleges his client, Gail Holler-Kennedy, was sexually abused by Fr. Mark S. Andrzejczuk from 1978 to 1982 at O'Hara, where Fr. Andrzejczuk was a teacher.
The priest, who died in 2011, would write passes excusing Holler-Kennedy from another teacher's class and he would then sexually abuse her, the lawsuit states.
The @BuffaloDiocese has known about this allegation since at least June, according to documents obtained by the @WKBW I-Team. Despite that, it did not include Fr. Mark Andrzejczuk on its list of accused priests. https://t.co/2SYLUZ0p2O pic.twitter.com/TTywQLeRog
— Charlie Specht (@Charlie_Reports) February 25, 2019
"The abuse occurred approximately twice a week for approximately three years, beginning when Plaintiff was
approximately 14 years old and ending when she was approximately 17 years old," the filing states.
The diocese, the high school and the Conventual Franciscan order "had a duty not to aid a pedophile such a Father Andrzejczuk" and also also had the responsibility as mandated reporters to report the abuse, but did not, Garabedian claims.
Since then, Holler-Kennedy has suffered with alcohol problems, panic attacks, flashbacks, "feeling that her innocence was stolen, and feeling that her life was ruined," the lawsuit states.
The suit seeks $50 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages. Holler-Kennedy first sought compensation through the diocese's settlement program but was denied because she did not meet a deadline, Garabedian said.
"She was told she did not fit within the time requirements of the compensation program by the attorneys of the Diocese of Buffalo," Garabedian said. "Obviously, with regard to the compensation program, the Diocese of Buffalo is doing the bare minimum to try to compensate victims and validate their claims."
Buffalo Diocese spokeswoman Kathy Spangler and diocese attorney Terrence M. Connors did not immediately comment on the filing.
Garabedian said school officials "had a duty not to aid a pedophile such as Father Andrzejczuk" and violated New York's laws for the mandatory reporting of child abuse. He declined to go into specifics about the mandatory reporting claim.
"Each and every case is shocking, but this woman was sexually abused over the course of about three years as a child, and how could supervisors not know during the course of three years of sexual abuse that the child was being sexually abused and something wrong was going on?