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National group seeks to identify known pedophile priests here

A national support and advocacy group for victims of clergy sexual abuse wants the names of known pedophile priests in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo released.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- known as SNAP -- was in Buffalo on Friday to raise awareness about the support group and publicly pressure the diocese to release names of any alleged abusers.

A spokeswoman said SNAP also wants more information about abuse allegations that surfaced in recent lawsuits against two priests who served in the Buffalo Diocese -- the Rev. Timothy Kelley, a former Dunkirk pastor, and the Rev. James H. Cotter, who died in 1991 before the allegations emerged.

"We feel [the Buffalo Diocese needs] to be open," said Barbara Dorris, national outreach director for SNAP. "They need to tell the whole truth. It shouldn't be forced through court documents."

The group called a news conference Friday morning in front of the Catholic Center on Main Street to discuss its push in Buffalo and other cities across the country.

Dorris and two alleged local victims, who did not give their names, showed up Friday but didn't approach diocesan officials with their requests.

Afterward, the Buffalo Diocese released a statement saying that, under a charter established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, there is no requirement to publicize the names of priests accused of abuse. The diocese has provided, and will continue to provide, counseling for abuse victims, the statement read.

SNAP has been going on the offensive now that "window" legislation -- allowing victims to file lawsuits even if the alleged abuse occurred years ago -- appears stuck in Albany, Dorris said.

SNAP now has a chapter in Buffalo.

"We are doing a lot of outreach right now," Dorris said. "We know there are more and more who need to get help and come forward. There are a lot of victims who feel trapped in guilt and self-blame."

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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