The Diocese of Buffalo was founded in 1847 and covers the western New York counties of Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Orleans, Chautauqua, Wyoming, Cattauraugus, and Allegany, New York with a Catholic population of nearly 700,000 attending 166 parishes.
The current head of the diocese is Bishop Richard Malone (2012-present), the former bishop of Portland, Maine (2004-12) and auxiliary bishop of Boston (2001-04).
On September 12, 2018, leaked church records showed that there were 106 clergy in the Diocese of Buffalo who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children, far more than a list of 42 which had been released by Malone’s Diocese in March of the same year. According to one media report, evidence leaked from the diocese’s secret archives shows the true scope of abuse was much larger than Malone publicly let on — with a total of 106 total priests on the original draft list of accused priests.
According to Buffalo reporter Charlie Specht, “A second internal document shows that may be understating the problem. That document — a database of diocesan employees ‘who have been accused of criminal, abusive or inappropriate behavior, or who have been the victims of such behavior’ — reveals 324 names, mostly priests but also deacons, nuns and lay employees.
Diocesan officials, according to internal church records obtained by the I-Team, made a series of exceptions that excluded the majority of accused priests from the final list and resulted in a much lower number for the public to digest.”
One of the worst priest abusers in Buffalo was not even on the March list of 42 Buffalo priests. His name came out after reporters received the documents from the secret archives demonstrating that Bishop Malone knew since he came to Buffalo in 2012 about Fabian Maryanski and his sexual molestation of a then-15-year-old girl, Stephanie McIntyre. According to news sources, “Maryanski first met Stephanie McIntyre in 1984 when he was the pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in Barker.
McIntyre, in a letter she sent to Bishop Malone in April, said the priest abused her for seven years, beginning when she was 15 years old.” McIntyre reported the abuse to the Diocese in 1995 when Bishop Mansell was in charge. Mansell did nothing about it. In 1996, Maryanski was placed on leave but re-surfaced in 2000, celebrating mass at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Clarence.
When the Buffalo News published Ms. McIntyre’s account, Bishop Malone stated that he was unaware that the allegation involved a minor. But diocesan records obtained by the I-Team show church lawyers informed Malone about the Maryanski case in a confidential, 300-page “black binder” of diocesan secrets that included stories of sex abuse, theft and other “pending matters” inherited by the bishop on Sept. 19, 2012. That document includes a detailed description of the abuse allegations, including the fact that the victim said she was 15 years old when the abuse occurred. Another document shows the diocese considered placing Maryanski on the list of 42 accused priests but concluded, “We did not remove him from ministry despite full knowledge of the case, and so including him on list might require explanation.”
Malone withheld Maryanski’s name from the list. He also allowed Maryanski to stay in ministry at Nativity in Clarence until The Buffalo News published its story in May.
Under Bishop Malone’s leadership, the Diocese of Buffalo has become one of the worst dioceses in terms of the cover-up of priest abuse and allowing known predators to return to parishes without telling anyone of their past history.
In Buffalo, the numbers of priests accused of abuse keeps changing because the criteria for inclusion on the list varies, depending upon the priest and if the diocese thinks they can withhold disclosure. One’s priest name was left off the list, in spite of a credible and serious accusation, because the diocese said he is presently a pastor.
The team of journalists covering the Buffalo priest abuse scandal believes even the number 102 is conservative. They found in the secret archives a database of names that should be public and it contains 324 names, 202 of them are or were priests of the Diocese of Buffalo.
Memos between Sister Regina, who served as the diocesan archivist, and Bishop Malone indicate she created a database last year while reorganizing priest files in locations at diocesan headquarters that were nicknamed the “Well” and the “Secret Archives.” The memos stated that civil authorities should be granted full access to the files “only when a court order or subpoena has been properly served.”
“Due to the volume of some of the documentation related to court cases, there are materials temporarily stored in ‘the well’ pertaining to seven priests,” Sister Regina wrote to Malone in a memo dated May 3, 2017. “We are awaiting our lawyers’ confirmation that these materials can be shredded.”
When the clergy abuse scandal broke in February and Malone came under intense pressure to name abusive priests, a group of chancery officials that included Sister Regina and diocesan attorney Quinlan spent weeks narrowing down the list of accused priests, emails show, with final input from diocesan lawyer Terrence M. Connors.
“Right now, we need more time to prepare very carefully the list of names,” Bishop Malone wrote in a March 13 email to Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz and other top advisers.
In Buffalo, the corruption and cover-up did not start with Bishop Malone. Former bishop Henry Mansell encouraged a pedophile priest to seek a promotion and wrote to him, “”The future is bright with promise,” he wrote to the Rev. Edward Pipala, who got to lead his own parish two years later. Mr. Pipala has since served seven years in prison for molestation and no longer works as a priest. In Buffalo, Bishop Mansell has refused to identify accused priests to police. State law doesn’t require him to do so, and the bishop said that divulging names could chill efforts to uncover wrongdoing by clergy.
Malone’s immediate predecessor in Buffalo was Bishop Edward Kmiec. He was accused in a lawsuit of failing to act after learning in the mid- to late 1990s that a suspended pedophile priest was continuing to socialize with boys at a church and a Catholic school. Therapists had warned the diocese in writing that the Rev. Edward McKeown should be kept away from adolescents. Father McKeown gained temporary custody of a troubled teen in the late 1990s, then later was charged with raping him and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Bishop Kmiec has acknowledged giving parishioners a “misleading” statement about how many times his predecessor was warned about the priest before suspending him. The bishop’s spokesman has also insisted that, over the years, the diocese has done its best to deal with Father McKeown.
In October 2018, the Buffalo News made national headlines when they accused six former or current Buffalo bishops of allowing a pedophile priest to remain in ministry in spite of known allegations of sexual abuse. Fr. Brian Hatrick remained active in parishes for decades in spite of a New York woman lodging a sexual abuse complaint against him with the Diocese of Buffalo in the 1980’s. He was quietly removed/retired in 2007.
The Child Victims Act and the hard work of Buffalo media will make it difficult for the Diocese of Buffalo to continue hiding their secrets of child sexual abuse. If you or a loved one has been abused by a priest of the Diocese of Buffalo, contact Attorney Joe Saunders for a legal consultation. Attorney Saunders has been fighting for survivors of sexual abuse for nearly two decades.