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At least 59 Buffalo priests publicly linked to sex allegations

The Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits isn't the only priest in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo who's been publicly accused of inappropriate sexual conduct.

At least 59 priests who worked in the Buffalo area have been publicly accused in recent decades, according to Buffalo News archives, public records, other news archives and recent reporting by the News.

Some were arrested. Some were named in lawsuits. Some were accused of wrongdoing outside of Western New York. Some are in prison, but most were never prosecuted.

Twenty-seven priests were publicly linked to the sex abuse scandals for the first time on March 20 when the Buffalo Diocese released a list of 42 priests accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

In 2004, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said 93 complaints alleging sexual abuse had been lodged against 53 clerics in the diocese since 1950. Since 2003, the diocese has received 15 to 20 additional complaints, attorney Terrance Connors, who represents the diocese, said March 1.

Here are the priests who have been publicly accused. The News updates this list when necessary.

1. John R. Aurelio – Aurelio admitted to Niagara County law enforcement in 1993 that he and Rev. Bernard M. Mach sodomized young boys in a house the priests shared in East Aurora. The abuse happened 15 to 20 years prior, Aurelio told authorities. As of 2002, Aurelio was no longer functioning as a priest and lived out of state.

2. Benedict P. Barszcz – A former assistant pastor of St. Peter's in Lewiston, he was charged in July 1999 with exposing himself to two teenage girls in Buffalo. Subsequently, he was no longer allowed to publicly celebrate Mass or the sacraments, the diocese said.

3. Donald W. Becker –  The Buffalo diocese confirmed March 16, 2018 that Becker was removed from active ministry in 2003 because of allegations he sexually abused minors. Three men told The Buffalo News that Becker molested them when they were children. One of the men received a financial settlement from the diocese, according to his attorney.  Becker, who is retired and living in Fort Myers, Fla., told The Buffalo News he has never sexually abused children. He said he left active ministry because he had Parkinson's disease.

4. David M. Bialkowski – A former altar server accused Bialkowski of inappropriate touching in 2011. Two more accusers came forward shortly after the initial accusations were made and Bialkowski was put on administrative leave from St. John Gualbert in Cheektowaga and ordered not to perform any priestly duties.

5. Robert J. Biesinger – Biesinger was accused in a 1995 lawsuit of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in August 1974 during a drill-team competition in Chicago, as well as at locations in the Buffalo area. Biesinger resigned as pastor of a Cheektowaga parish in 1994 and retired before the diocese settled the lawsuit in 1996.

6. Secondo Casarotto - The diocese in 2012 reached a financial settlement with a 37-year-old woman who accused Casarotto of groping her inside the rectory of St. Anthony Church in Buffalo in 2009. No charges were filed against Casarotto but he was removed as a priest.

7. Charles Cassetta – Cassetta was accused in a lawsuit filed around 2003 of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 1971 and 1972 in Palm Beach County, Fla. Cassetta, who left the priesthood in 1975, worked in Buffalo before Florida.

8. Robert P. Conlin - Wayne Bortle, 53, publicly accused Conlin of sexually abusing him in the rectory of St. Mary Church in Pavilion more than three decades ago, when Bortle was about 16. Bortle's attorney said he notified the Buffalo Diocese of Bortle's claims on Jan. 18, 2018. The diocese has not acknowledged allegations against Conlin, who died in 1997, or paid any settlement to Bortle. Conlin was not among the 42 priests whom the diocese said March 20, 2018 had had credible allegations lodged against them.

9. James H. Cotter – The Buffalo diocese was accused in a 2007 lawsuit of transferring Cotter to San Diego, where he was accused of molesting a 7-year-old boy in the late 1980s. The diocese did not contributed to a settlement paid by the San Diego Diocese to 144 people who accused clergy of abuse.

10. Kevin Downey - The Franciscan Friars provincial office permanently removed Downey from all public ministries in April 2017 after ruling an allegation against him of misconduct involving a minor was credible. Downey was a Franciscan friar assigned at the time to a church in Triangle, Va. He had been pastor at St. Bonaventure Church in Allegany, NY, from 2000 to 2002.

11. Donald S. Fafinski - Fafinski was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. A Boston, Mass., man told The News that Fafinski sexually abused him in the 1970s when he was a student at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean. Steve Lilly-Weber reported the abuse in 1994 and two years later reached a settlement with the diocese for $28,000.

12. Douglas F. Faraci - Faraci was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

13. Fred G. Fingerle - Fingerle was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

14. Michael R. Freeman - Freeman was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

15. Joseph P. Friel – Friel was named in a July 1994 lawsuit by a Town of Boston man who said he was molested by the priest in the late 1960s. Friel died in 1995. Friel was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. Shortly after that, Michael Stockmeyer of the Town of Tonawanda told The News he was a 10-year-old altar boy at St. Aloysius Church in Cheektowaga when Friel molested him in 1962.

16. Mark M. Friel - Friel was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

17. Thomas G. Gresock - Gresock was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

18. John P. Hajduk - Hajduk was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

19. Michael J. Harrington - Harrington was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

20. Brian M. Hatrick - Hatrick was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

21. James P. Hayes - Hayes was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

22. Louis J. Hendricks - Hendricks was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him. In 2018, former altar boy Timothy J. Clark said Hendricks repeatedly abused him when he was a teenager in the 1980s and he reported the abuse to the diocese in 2010.

23. Linus Hennessy, a Franciscan friar who had taught at Bishop Timon High School, was accused in 2015 by Buffalo resident Tino Flores of sexually abusing Flores for five years in the 1970s, beginning when Flores was 10 years old. Bishop Richard J. Malone said at the time that the complaint was referred to the Order of Friars Minor, to which Hennessy belonged. Flores provided to The News a 2013 letter from Brother Edward Coughlin of the Holy Name Province of the Order of Friars Minor to Dr. Philip Scozzaro, Flores' physician, stating that Coughlin did not know if Flores was abused "or the extent of any abuse on the part of Fr. Hennessy." The letter referenced the possibility of a $50,000 financial settlement. Hennessy died in 1983.

24. J. Grant Higgins - Higgins was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

25. Francis T. Hogan - Hogan was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

26. Stanley Idziak was accused in 1988 by two brothers, Rick and Bill Larango, of sexually abusing them while serving as a priest at their parish, Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in North Tonawanda, in the 1970s. After the Larango family moved to Atlanta, Ga., Idziak arranged to be transferred to their new parish and continued to abuse the younger Larango brother, according to their mother. Janet Larango confronted Idziak in 1988 after the priest was accused of molesting two other children near Atlanta. The Atlanta Archdiocese paid $570,000 to settle a 1991 lawsuit over sexual abuse brought against it by that Georgia family. The Larangos never sued, but the Archdiocese paid for counseling services for their sons, Janet Larango said. Idziak died in 2017.  The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo declined to say if it has received any complaints against Idziak.

27. Fred D. Ingalls – Ingalls pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in June 2004. He was an administrator at St. Joseph in Varysburg and St. Cecilia in Sheldon at the time of his arrest. He was sentenced to three years and one month in federal prison.

28. Florian A. Jasinski - Jasinski was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

29. Gerald C. Jasinski, who was a priest at St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster, was arrested June 7, 1986, on felony charges of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse and a charge of unlawfully dealing with a child by the Wyoming County Sheriff's Office.  Jasinski was accused of having sexual contact with two boys, aged 15 and 18, at a cabin in the town of Sheldon. Jasinski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of first-degree attempted sexual abuse in August, 1986 and was sentenced in December to five years on probation, according to Buffalo News archives.

30. Richard P. Judd - Judd was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him, but Nick D'Amico told the Niagara Gazette that Judd abused him when he was a student at an elementary school in 1975. He first went public with the allegations in 2002.

31. Timothy J. Kelley – Kelley was accused in a 2003 lawsuit in Florida of abusing a former altar boy who was a student at a Dunkirk school. The alleged abuse happened in 1983.

32. Thomas L. Kemp - Kemp was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

33. Richard J. Keppeler - Keppeler was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

34. Michael Kolodziej - Kolodziej was a teacher at two Catholic high schools in the Buffalo Diocese, Bishop Turner in Buffalo and St. Francis in Athol Springs, and a principal at a third,  Cardinal O'Hara in Tonawanda in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2013 the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Order of Friars Minor Conventual announced he was removed from public ministry because a former student at Baltimore's Archbishop Curley High School, where Kolodziej taught from 1975 to 1979, alleged Kolodziej had molested him while wrestling with him during that period. Kolodziej was ordained as a Buffalo Diocese priest before he joined the Franciscan order in 1974.

35. John D. Lewandowski - Lewandowski was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

36. Michael Lewandowski - Lewandowski, who taught students at two Buffalo-area Catholic high schools for more than a decade, was suspended from any public ministry in 2014 after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor. Lewandowski was a Franciscan friar in a parish in Davidsville, Pa., when the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese suspended him after it was notified of the allegation by the Order of Friars Conventual. The allegation against Lewandowski alleges his misconduct occurred during the 1980s, the period when he was teaching at St. Francis High School in Hamburg and at Cardinal O'Hara High School in the Town of Tonawanda. Buffalo Diocese officials declined to say whether the alleged abuse involved a child from the Buffalo area.

37. Bernard M. Mach – A civil lawsuit filed Dec. 9, 1993, accused Mach of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy in the rectory of St. Mary's Church in Lockport two years prior. The matter was brought before a grand jury. It did not indict Mach. The diocese later settled a $2 million lawsuit. The Rev. John R. Aurelio told police he and Mach sodomized young boys in an East Aurora house in the 1970s. As of 2002, Mach was no longer functioning as a priest and lived out of state.

38. Loville N. Martlock – Martlock was placed on "medical leave" in April 1994 after being accused of abusing a boy between 1974 and 1978. He was no longer functioning as a priest, the diocese said in 2002. He died in 2014 at age 77.

39. Fabian J. Maryanski - Diocese officials were told in 1995 by a woman that Maryanski had began having sexual contact with her in the 1980s when she was about 15 or 16 and attending St. Patrick Church in Barker. The allegations did not publicly surface until May 6, 2018, when The News reported that the diocese had allowed Maryanski to serve in churches for more than a decade after it the accusation was made. In interviews, Maryanski initially denied having any sexual contact with his accuser, but then said he had sex with her when she was in her 20s. The diocese did not include Maryanski on its March 2018 list of 42 priests against whom it received credible allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.

40. Thomas J. McCarthy - McCarthy was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

41. Michael Miller - Miller, A Franciscan priest who taught for several years at a Catholic high school in Athol Springs, was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of possessing child pornography, obscenity and risk of injury to a minor in 2013 in Connecticut. Miller, 48, was a pastor of a Catholic church with a school in Kensington, Conn., when police there charged him. The Hartford Courant reported that Miller had inappropriate Facebook chats with seven Connecticut teenagers, including inviting one boy to come over and watch a "dirty movie" and writing detailed descriptions about sex acts he would perform on the boy, according to court documents. Miller previously taught at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs in 1993 and again from 2000 to 2003. Officials from the Buffalo diocese said at the time of Miller's arrest that they were not aware of any allegations of misconduct against Miller during his time at St. Francis.

42. Loren Nys - Nys, a Salvatorian priest, taught at St. Mary's High School in Lancaster from 1969 to 1987. In 2014, the Society of the Divine Savior removed him from ministry because of two complaints from 43 years before about Nys engaging in inappropriate conduct with children. The complaints would have been from around 1970 or 1971, a time when he was at St. Mary's High School.  In March 2018, Robert Swierat told The News that Nys had molested him when he was a teenager and was living at the priest's residence.

43. Basil A. Ormsby - Ormsby was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

44. Norbert F. Orsolits – On the same day this week when a South Buffalo man publicly accused him of sexually abusing him in 1979 or 1980, while Orsolits was at St. John Vianney parish in Orchard Park, Orsolits admitted to The Buffalo News he had sexual contact with "probably dozens" of teenage boys. Two brothers told The News that Orsolits sexually abused them in the late 1960s when he was at St. John the Baptist Church in Alden. Orsolits said the diocese sent him to Southdown Institute twice for treatment. The diocese removed Orsolits in 2003 from active ministry, barring him from saying Mass or performing other priestly duties.

45. Martin L. Pavlock - Pavlock was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. Pavlock told The Buffalo News that he had "crossed the line" on one occasion many years ago, but declined to reveal any further information about the incident. Pavlock said he spent seven months at Southdown Institute, a counseling and therapy facility outside Toronto, and was not involved in any other sexual misconduct. He said the diocese removed him from public ministry in 2002.

46. James F. Rapp - Rapp, 77, who grew up in Lockport, worked as a priest in 1979-80 at DeSales High School in Lockport. Later, after being accused in 1987 of molesting two students at a Catholic high school in Jackson, Mich., he was sent to a psychological clinic for treatment by his religious order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. Then he was assigned to serve as a parish priest in Duncan, Okla. He was charged with molesting two teenaged boys in Oklahoma in 1999, pleaded no contest to lewd molestation, and was sentenced to two consecutive 20-year prison terms. The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City paid $5 million to settle one lawsuit filed by a teen molested for five years and $1 million to settle another suit filed by a victim. In 2016, he was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison in Michigan after being charged with molesting six students at Lumen Christi High School in Jackson, Mich., in the 1980s.

47. Roy K. Ronald - Ronald was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

48. Joseph E. Schieder - Schieder was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

49. Joseph A. Schuster - Mark Lynch of Youngstown accused Schuster on sexually abusing him when Lynch was 13 in 1968 at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel rectory in Niagara Falls. Lynch said he sent the diocese a complaint on March 12, 2018. Schuster, who took a leave of absence from the priesthood in 1991 and resigned as executive director of the Catholic Worker Center he founded in Niagara Falls. He died in 2007.

50. Robert J. Smith – Smith, who was expelled from a Buffalo-area seminary in 1959, was sued separately in 1993 and 1994 by two former altar boys over alleged sexual abuse in Santa Fe.

51. Gerald A. Smyczynski - Smyczynski was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

52. James A. Spielman – A settlement was revealed in 2002 about a sexual assault complaint against Spielman filed in 1993. The alleged abuse happened in the 1970s. The diocese settled the complaint in 1994. Spielman resigned from the priesthood and moved out of state. In 2016, the diocese paid $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a Texas man who alleged Spielman molested him when he was an Archbishop Walsh High School student from 1979 through 1982.

53. Bernard Splawski – Splawski was accused in 1986 of fondling an 18-year-old male student at Bishop Timon High School. He resigned in February 2003 as pastor of a New Jersey parish due to renewed complaints from the former student's family.

54. Chester S. Stachewicz - Stachewicz was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

55. Edward J. Walker - Walker was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

56. William G. Ward - Ward was one of the 42 priests publicly identified March 20, 2018 by Bishop Richard J. Malone as having been accused of sexual misconduct with a minor. The diocese did not release any information about the allegation against him.

57. Charles M. Werth – Werth was charged in 1994 and 2004 after incidents in Ellicott Creek Park. In the earlier case, he was charged with sexual abuse and pleaded guilty to exposure, a violation. In the latter incident, the then-retired priest was charged with public lewdness and afterwards removed from active ministry. The diocese said neither allegation involved young people. He died in December at age 89.

58. William F.J. White – White was placed on leave in February 1993 after he was accused of sexual abuse. He was no longer functioning as a priest and had moved out of state, the diocese said in 2002.

59. Robert W. Wood – Wood was removed as pastor of St. Joseph in Varysburg in 2003 after being accused of sexually abusing a minor. At the time, he said it involved an alleged incident that happened 16 years prior.

Contact Aaron Besecker at abesecker@buffnews.com or 716-849-4602. 

Retired Buffalo-area priest admits sexually abusing 'dozens' of boys

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