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More names of priests expected to surface after release of list from Buffalo Diocese

A spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo declined on Wednesday to disclose more information about 42 priests who were identified as having had credible allegations of child sexual abuse brought against them, but he said further disclosures "certainly will be considered" in the future.

"At this time what we felt was most appropriate was to get the names out on a timely basis and that's what we did," said the spokesman, George Richert.

Diocesan officials, he said, will "take under consideration" the release of a fuller accounting, such as when the priests were accused of abuse, what parishes they served in, how many allegations were lodged against them and when they were removed from ministry or left ministry on their own.

Richert also declined to say how the diocese determined that the allegations against the priests were credible.

The list included the names of priests who started working in parishes as far back as 1935. The accused priests served in parishes across all of the eight counties of the Buffalo Diocese.

Bishop Richard J. Malone's reversal on Tuesday of a longstanding policy in which it kept secret the identities of clergy accused of sexual misconduct with minors failed to mollify victims and their advocates.

They said the list of 42 was incomplete and lacked the kind of full transparency that would help victims heal and find justice.

Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented many abuse victims, predicted more names will continue to surface.

"The list is going to grow, whether the Diocese of Buffalo adds to it or not," said Garabedian.

Names of Buffalo Diocese priests accused of abusing minors

The release of the list followed an admission by retired priest Norbert F. Orsolits to The News in February that he had molested "probably dozens" of boys decades ago. A torrent of firsthand victim accounts of abuse at the hands of Buffalo clergy ensued, putting Malone under mounting pressure from victims and their advocates to reveal more information about the full extent of abuse in the Buffalo Diocese.

Malone also announced earlier this month that the diocese had started an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program to provide financial settlements for clergy sex abuse victims.

"It's like an explosion in Buffalo," said Michael Stockmeyer of the Town of Tonawanda. "The more people that come forward, the better it is for the victims."

Stockmeyer said he was a 10-year-old altar boy when he was molested in 1962 by the Rev. Joseph Friel, who was on the diocesan list released Tuesday. Friel died in 1995. Another alleged victim of Friel went public with his allegations in a 1994 lawsuit against the diocese.

Stockmeyer, 66, wishes he had been able to tell his story back then, too, but it's taken him years to come to grips with the abuse. "You convince yourself it didn't happen," he said.

"I feel real bad I didn't come forward then. I feel guilty. I thought it would make me look as if I was tainted. And I didn't know how it would affect my children," said Stockmeyer, a retired postal worker.

Stockmeyer said his parents were "fanatically Catholic." Friel heard the young Stockmeyer's confessions in St. Aloysius Church in Cheektowaga, where Friel was an assistant pastor. The priest then targeted the youngster at least twice when the two were alone in a room set aside for altar boys, he said. Stockmeyer didn't tell a soul for decades.

"Back in the '50s and '60s they were so powerful and so authoritarian. Questioning them was like questioning God," he said.

He said he told his wife his secret about five years into his marriage and finally told his parents when he was in his 40s.

"I went to them when the scandal came out in the middle '90s and told them what happened. I didn't tell them when I was 10, because I couldn't," he said. "They just stared at me. They couldn't process it."

[Related: At least 53 Buffalo priests publicly linked to sex allegations]

The diocese has been inundated with telephone calls from victims since announcing the new compensation fund, which is being handled through victims assistance coordinator Jacqueline Joy.

Richert said the diocese wants to hear from all victims and urged patience.

"She's got a lot of calls and she's getting some help. It may take a day or two for us to return the calls," he said. "It isn't going ignored."

Priests at all 161 parishes in the diocese also will be encouraged this weekend to read a statement from Malone at Masses that urges parishioners to report any past abuse.

"If the names bring up any old memories or victims we've never heard of we want to encourage them to call 895-3010," said Richert.

Malone said in an interview in Albany on Tuesday that he did not have an estimate of the number of children who had been abused by Buffalo clergy.

But he said the days of protecting the identities of priests credibly accused of abuse could no longer continue.

"The tendency probably decades ago was perhaps, like a family, you don't want to hang out the dirty laundry, you know. And clearly there was dirty laundry," he said. "I felt it was time to bring it into the light and I think most people, from what I'm hearing, appreciate that. Some do not because the church has to struggle now through this. But it will be a good struggle. It will come out in the light in the end."

Where the 42 Buffalo area priests accused of sexual misconduct with kids worked

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