I-Team: Suspended Buffalo priest served on child abuse review board

Rev. Mark Wolski accused of child sex abuse
Posted at 6:56 PM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-08 08:47:02-05

He was the chaplain at Children's Hospital.

He was a prominent priest.

He was even a member of the child abuse review board for the Diocese of Buffalo.

But now, the Rev. Mark J. Wolski is just the latest cleric to be suspended by the diocese over an allegation of child sexual abuse.

"After receiving an abuse complaint against Rev. Mark J. Wolski, Bishop Richard J. Malone has placed Father Wolski on administrative leave as an investigation continues," the diocese said in a statement Thursday morning. "Please note that this administrative leave is for the purpose of investigation and does not imply any determination as to the truth or falsity of the complaint."

The diocese did not elaborate, but records show Fr. Wolski most recently served at SS. Peter & Paul Church in Hamburg. He retired in 2012 but continued to say Mass in various churches, including Most Precious Blood in Angola, a diocesan spokesman said. Before that, he served at St. John the Evangelist in South Buffalo and St. James Major in Westfield.

From 2003 to 2004, he was a member of the Buffalo Diocese’s first diocesan review board, which listens to claims of child sexual abuse by priests and decides whether victims should receive settlements.

“How neutral could Father Mark Wolski have been to be on the review board to review sexual abuse claims?” asked Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who was featured in the movie “Spotlight” and who is representing the alleged victim of Wolski.”

“It's a re-victimization of all [survivors ] of sexual abuse,” Garabedian added. “It's a spit in the eye.”

The victim, who is still too afraid to show his face or reveal his name, spoke with 7 Eyewitness News by phone weeks ago and said Fr. Wolski abused him from 1968 to 1970 while he was between 15 and 17 years old.

Garabedian said much of the abuse occurred in the rectory of St. Barnabas Church in Depew, and the man said Wolski abused him more than 10 times. When the boy told Wolski to stop, he said the priest wrote him two letters saying, “the fault is on both sides.”

The man said he was re-traumatized years later when Wolski showed up at his father's wake. The priest gave him a hug and his smell triggered a flashback to the earlier abuse and led him -- the night before his father's funeral -- to tell his family about the abuse for the first time, he said.

The victim said he threatened to go public with the allegation in 2003 if Wolski did not resign from the diocesan review board. The diocese said he left the board in 2004 but did not specify a reason.

One possible red flag in Wolski's record occurs in 1984, when he is not assigned in diocesan directories to any parish and his address is listed as "c/o 35 Lincoln Parkway," which was the old address of the Chancery.

Father Wolski lives in a lakefront cottage Angola, where some abuse is alleged to have taken place. But he did not appear to be home when a reporter from 7 Eyewitness News knocked on the door Thursday. He also did not return a phone call from the I-Team seeking comment.

“How deep is the sexual abuse within the Diocese of Buffalo?” Garabedian asked. “How far to the top does it go? Who else with great authority within the Diocese of Buffalo is an alleged sexual abuser? Chancellors, vice chancellors, bishops? We don't know.”