Reaction to list of priest child sex abusers

Posted at 2:35 PM, Mar 20, 2018

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo released the names of 42 diocesan priests accused of sexually abusing a child. It includes priests who have died, were removed or retired, or left the ministry after the allegations.

However, a local survivor, Tom Travers, who operates a support group for priest child sex abuse victims, called "William's Place," wonders why the list is missing the names of his abuser and others he has heard from victims that he works with. 

The Diocese said the list does not include non-diocesan priests (such as priests from other religious orders who worked in the Buffalo Diocese) or deceased priests who had only one allegation of abuse.  When asked if there are other priests currently under investigation whose names are not on the list, a diocesan spokesman said there was "no comment at this time."

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly spoke with Tom Travers.  Travers has been notified that he is eligible to file a claim under a compensation program set up by the diocese for sex abuse victims.  As a young altar boy in the mid-1970's, Travers said he was abused by a priest at Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Orchard Park.

The diocese previously declined to confirm or deny to 7 Eyewitness News if Travers' abuser, who has since died, was under investigation.  

Tom Travers is now actively advocating to get the NYS Senate to pass the Child Victims Act that would extend the timeline for victims to take legal action against an abuser.  

On that same day that the list of accused priests was released, Bishop Richard Malone was in Albany lobbying against the Child Victims Act.  Under the proposed law, a one-year window would be established to allow adults to bring a lawsuit against their abuser, regardless of how long ago the child sex abuse took place.  Currently, the statute of limitations prevents victims from suing clergy or churches.

It has also been reported that the Boy Scouts of America are joining with the Catholic Church in opposing the Child Victims Act.

For those who are seeing the list of priests accused of child sex abuse and believe they may be a victim, the Diocese of Buffalo is asking them to call its Victims Assistance Coordinator, Jacqueline Joy, through a hotline that can be reached at (716) 895-3010.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said the statute of limitations has run out and none of the names on the list qualify for prosecution.  However, Flynn added that he would not be happy if other names of priests accused of child sex abuse are being withheld.