BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The leader of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, Bishop Richard Malone faced tough questions about the priest abuse scandal.
Malone appeared in an interview aired nationwide on ABC’s Nightline .
7 Eyewitness News senior reporter Eileen Buckley spoke to the whistleblower who says she would testify against her former boss.
“For me - it just reminded me that things are such much the way the way they always were,” remarked Siobhan O'Connor.
O’Connor is Bishop Malone's former secretary - turned whistleblower who worked exclusively with I-Team chief investigator Charlie Specht as he investigated decades of abuse allegations in the diocese. Her former boss faced a grilling about the scandal on Nightline by ABC news reporter David Wright.
“No. There's no priest with a substantiated, what you called credible, allegation of abuse of a minor in ministry in this diocese. I can testify to that honestly and 100%,” Malone responded.
In the interview, O’Connor describes how she discovered a binder in a so-called ‘vacuum cleaner closet’ at the diocese office's in downtown Buffalo. She told Nightline it contained documents of alleged priest sex abuse cases. But when she tried to bring her concerns to Malone, he didn't react.
“He was always very eager to placate me – to tell me not to worry about – that's not my job – don't get involved,” O’Connor explained.
Then reporter Wright showed Bishop Malone an email provided by O’Connor on her concerns.
“I mean I have here an email that she sent to you outlining her disappointment and her concerns,” said Wrighgt.
“Yea- I think – yes – I, I recall this…but I’m willing to admit that I didn't handle that properly…and believe me – I’ve learned from it,” answered Malone.
O’Connor was also asked if she thinks the bishop should go to jail by Nightline.
“That’s such a hard question for me – because he wasn't alone,” O’Connor replied.
“Put it this way – would you be testifying against him?,” Wright questioned.
“I would – yes – so in that regard my testimony might result in him going to jail – and again – it's hard because I do know him personally…sadly…I think he does need to go to jail – but I would visit him,” O’Connor remarked.
Malone appeared stunned to hear O’Connor’s response.
“Wow – that is a shocker to me and disappointing and very distressing – that's all I can say,” Malone answered.
“Do you understand the depth of her anger and disappointment?” asked Wright.
“Not entirely - not entirely – to say she thinks I should go to jail – I find – I almost speechless to hear that,” said Malone.
Ironically O’Connor has been asked to be the speaker at a gathering of the survivors network of those abused by priests - known a snap in Washington, D.C.
We asked how she felt when Malone declared that he doesn't “entirely” understand her anger.
“That’s really a testament to the fact that he would often see and hear what he wanted to hear and I don't believe that he fully understood my frustrations when I did express them to him - I don't know if he really understood the gravity of the emotionally stress I was in at times,” O’Connor responded.
Bishop Malone denied there was a cover up within the church when asked about the diocese originally releasing the names of 42-priests with substantiated claims of abuse against them, then later the list grew to more than 100
Late Friday afternoon the diocese issued a statement saying Bishop Malone has made determinations on three priests based an independent review board recommendations.
The board was unable to substantiate the allegations against Msgr. John Ryan. He has been returned to ministry.
An allegation of child sexual abuse against Rev. Pascal Ipolito and an allegation of child sexual abuse against Rev. Daniel Palys have been substantiated. Both priests will remain on administrative leave.
The following is the full statement issued by the diocese:
"Bishop Malone makes determinations on three priests following Independent Review Board recommendations. On July 24, 2019, the Independent Review Board met and carefully considered the reports of investigator Scott F. Riordan who was asked to investigate allegations of abuse against three priests of the Diocese of Buffalo.As a result of these reports and the advice and recommendations of the Independent Review Board, Bishop Richard J. Malone has made the following determinations:Based on the information available at this time and the refusal of the complainants to cooperate with the investigator, the Independent Review Board is unable to substantiate the allegations against Msgr. John M. Ryan. Msgr. Ryan has been returned to ministry.An allegation of child sexual abuse against Rev. Pascal D. Ipolito and an allegation of child sexual abuse against Rev. Daniel J. Palys have been substantiated, and both priests will remain on administrative leave until the results of the diocesan investigation are reviewed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican in Rome, who will make the final determination."