BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Former Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz became the highest-ranking cleric in the Diocese of Buffalo to be accused of child sexual abuse Monday.
The alleged victim, who is identified in the lawsuit with a “John Doe” pseudonym, filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court alleging abuse by Bishop Grosz and Fr. Richard Keppeler.
In allegations first reported by The Buffalo News, Grosz is accused of abusing the 15-year-old boy in 1990 at his confirmation at St. Brigid Church in Genesee County.
At a Tuesday news conference, attorney Steve Boyd said as the boy approached the altar for his confirmation, Grosz was heard making a remark to Keppeler.
“Bishop Grosz was heard to say to Keppeler, ‘Oh Dick, you were right about this one. He looks like he could be in GQ Magazine,’” Boyd said.
The boy’s grandmother allegedly told the diocese’s number two leader to keep his hands off her grandson.
“They saw him groping him. They did not know the extent of what had gone on,” said Boyd. “But the grandmother got into it with the bishop at a reception where Bishop Grosz appeared to be constantly by this boy's side with his hands on him.”
The man began to consider coming forward in 2019, when he read a response to clergy abuse victims by then-Bishop Richard Malone that he found offensive.
Other abuse survivors had similar stories about dealing with Grosz when they called the diocese to report their abuse.
“But he never apologized, when he called me, he just told me that there was nothing I could do,” said abuse survivor Michael Whalen, whose story sparked the sex abuse scandal in the Buffalo Diocese.
In a statement read by attorney Steve Boyd, the victim stated, “My family has been aware of the inappropriate contact with Bishop Grosz since it happened 31 years ago. I first told my mother the full extent of that interaction 13 years ago. I am ready now with the support of my family and my attorneys to let the legal process run its course.”
In March 2018, Keppeler was placed on the diocese’s list of priests with substantiated allegations of abusing a minor. Monday’s lawsuit is the seventh case filed under the New York Child Victims Act identifying Fr. Keppeler as a child sexual abuser.
Grosz retired in March 2020 but still performs limited sacramental ministries, according to the diocese.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests released a statement saying in part, “We find it very concerning that for many years Bishop Grosz played a key role in handling sexual abuse complaints in the Diocese of Buffalo. We fear that it is possible that many cases may have been mishandled by the prelate.”
The 7 Eyewitness News I-Team news asked the diocese for an interview with Grosz but was told, “Bishop Grosz has indicated that he will not be conducting any interviews.”