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Buffalo diocese says sexual abuse allegations prompted priest's removal

Three men have accused the Rev. Donald W. Becker of sexually abusing them when they were boys decades ago.

Becker was removed from active ministry in 2003 because complaints of sexual abuse were made against him, a spokesman for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese told The Buffalo News Friday afternoon.

Diocesan spokesman George Richert provided that information when a reporter called him to ask about allegations made to The News by three Buffalo area men, who claim Becker molested them. A similar statement was given earlier in the day by Bishop Richard J. Malone to a reporter from WKBW television.

All three of the men said Becker molested them after getting them drunk on alcohol. Two of the men told The News they were in their early teens when they were molested, and the third said he was 9 years old.

One of the men recently received a financial settlement from the diocese after making a complaint about Becker molesting him, according to the alleged victim and his attorney. They wouldn't disclose the amount of the settlement. Another of the men said the diocese agreed to pay for his psychological counseling, his medical care and his medications after he made a complaint against Becker more than a year ago.

Now living in Fort Myers, Fla., Becker denied the allegations when contacted by The News. He said the sole reason for his retirement from active duties in the priesthood was that he suffers from Parkinson's disease.

When asked if he had ever molested children, Becker said: "No, I did not. That is quite shocking…I haven't talked to the bishop at all about this. I'm going to call the diocese and find out what's going on."

According to diocese records, Becker served in at least nine parishes in the diocese from 1968 through 2002, including St. Mark's in Rushford, St. Mary's of the Assumption in Lancaster, St. Bonaventure in West Seneca, SS. Peter & Paul in Hamburg, Nativity of Our Lord in Orchard Park, St. Stephen's on Grand Island and St. Agatha's in Buffalo. In 2003, the diocese's annual directory listed him as assigned to the diocese headquarters. After that, the directory listed Becker residing in Java Center and it says he retired in 2007.

The News will provide more details in a later story.

Buffalo Diocese: Priest barred from duties because of sex abuse complaints

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