The Diocese of Buffalo on Friday returned two priests to ministry who were accused in August of child sexual abuse.
The diocese announced in a written statement the return of Fr. Peter Popadick, pastor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Cheektowaga, and Fr. Paul Nogaro, the since-retired pastor of St. Stephen’s in Grand Island.
Both priests denied the allegations of sexual abuse and the diocese said, “based on the information available at this time and the refusal of the complainant to cooperate in an independent investigation, it is unable to substantiate the allegations of sexual abuse of a minor” against the priests.
In August, Popadick and Nogaro were accused in lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act of abusing a minor in the 1970s.
James Faluszczak, a former priest working for the law firm that filed the lawsuit, said the accuser has not backed off his story and lawyers advised the man not to cooperate with the diocese’s internal investigation.
“There’s never a hint of that,” Faluszczak said. “It’s silly that you would make a client available to the adversary outside of a courtroom setting.”
The diocese said it relies on the “impartial expertise of the members of the Independent Review Board,” who are appointed by the bishop, but Faluszczak said it would be inappropriate for the alleged victim to undergo interviews by church investigators at the same time legal action is pending in State Supreme Court.
“If somebody’s abused in any kind of corporate setting or business environment, you would never advise making a client available to the institution that has historically has covered this up,” Faluszczak said.
Edward Cosgrove, an attorney for the priests, said in a statement, "These priests were the subject of news articles and media commentary which now require a public appreciation of the lack of value of unsworn claims made in lawsuits."
Click here to read the diocese’s full statement.