A national law firm that represents thousands of alleged abuse victims is calling on the Diocese of Buffalo to release the names and information of all priests accused of sexual abuse.
Attorney, J. Michael Reck, and former Catholic priest, Patrick Wall, gave local news agencies the details of a report, compiled by Jeff Anderson & Associates, PA - a law firm based in New York City.
"We're here today," said Reck, "to call on the Diocese of Buffalo to do the right thing. And to release the of other credibly accused clerics that it knows of that it continues to hold in secret."
The report highlights 13 accused Western New York priests. Reck explained that while the report documents the reported transgressions of 13 clerics, based on publicly available data, the Diocese of Buffalo has acknowledged that 40 more priests have been accused of sexual abuses.
"From the 53 that the Diocese of Buffalo has publicly acknowledged. That means there are 40...40 alleged clerics from the diocese of Buffalo whose identities and whereabouts are unknown to the public," Reck said.
According to the law firm's report, 6 of the 13 known priests are now dead. The "assignments" of the remaining seven are listed as "unknown".
"Seven alleged perpetrators whose current whereabouts and status is unknown to us," added Reck. "That, in and of itself, brings up an issue of vital public safety concern."
Here's the full report:
The Diocese of Buffalo spokesperson turned down our request for an interview, but did send us an e-mailed response to Tuesday morning's press conference.
In terms of releasing priests names and information, it stated, "A decision will be forthcoming very soon. The bishop is taking this very seriously."
Another key item brought up at the press briefing: the deadline for the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP). The Diocese of Buffalo announced this third party administered fund that will compensate the victims of sexual abuse by priests.
2 On Your Side spoke with Bishop Richard Malone about this in February.
He said, "We want victims to come forth. If there are victims out there who have not come forth before this...for reconciliation, for healing and now in this new program for compensation."
However, the deadline to call the IRCP at 1-888-920-9258 is June 1, 2018. And this compensation program is only available for those who report the abuse before March 1, 2018.
The Diocese says, "Since the announcement about the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, we have heard from a number of people, some of whom have filed claims."
In terms of that they will offer to new complainants, who come forward after the deadline, "We urge them to contact our Victim Assistance Coordinator at 895-3010, to arrange counseling."
Patrick Wall, a former Catholic priest, is now an advocate for the Jeff Anderson & Associates, P.A. law firm. He was at the Tuesday morning press conference. He expressed concern about placing a deadline for survivors of abuse to come forward.
"Survivors do not operate on a timeline like everyone else," stated Wall. "It should be when that survivor is ready to come forward. That should be the timeline. Many survivors...it takes them decades to deal with that incredible trauma that happened to them"
In terms of the 13 priests in the report, the Diocese had this to say about confirming knowledge of their misconduct, "Any time we receive notice of a claim of abuse and there is a semblance of truth, we remove the priest from active ministry and report it to the appropriate district attorney in accordance with our agreement with the eight counties in our Diocese."