The legendary and highly-rated CBS news magazine “60 Minutes” is scheduled to air a story at 7 p.m. Sunday on WIVB-TV (Channel 4) about the handling of alleged sexual abuse by priests in the Buffalo Diocese that has led to calls for Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign.
Here is what a brief CBS release said about the story titled “Inside the Secret Archive”: “Church insiders, including a clergyman, tell Bill Whitaker how a bishop failed to remove priests from service even though he knew of credible allegations of abuse against them. Guy Campanile is the producer.”
"CBS This Morning" ran a clip Friday morning in which Whitaker interviewed Paul L. Snyder III, a deacon who has called on Bishop Malone to resign. The program's co-anchor, John Dickerson, also said Bishop Malone declined to be interviewed by "60 Minutes" but he was interviewed by Channel 4, the CBS affiliate. Then Dickerson read a quote from Bishop Malone made in Thursday night's lengthy interview with Channel 4 anchor Don Postles. After the interview was over, Postles disclosed he is on the Bishop's Council for Laity.
"60 Minutes” has been working with WKBW-TV (Channel 7) reporter Charlie Specht on the story.
Specht, who has been in the forefront of local television stories about the alleged sexual abuse cover-up by Bishop Malone, revealed the source of his stories Wednesday and her motivation for coming forward.
He identified the whistleblower as Siobhan O’Connor, who was the secretary to the Catholic Bishop for three years before leaving her job in August.
On the 6 p.m. Thursday newscast on Channel 7, Specht described O’Connor “as a deeply religious woman who spent time in a convent when considering becoming a Catholic nun.”
“But it was the hours she spent on the phone with sexual abuse victims who had called the Diocese that finally convinced her that all Catholics in Western New York deserved to know the truth about how Bishop Malone and his staff were handling these sexual abuse claims,” added Specht.
Specht also read a statement from O’Connor in which she said her conscience compelled her to take action because of her concern for victims, the Diocese and the community.
“As a faithful Catholic. I could not abide by what I witnessed at the chancery,” she wrote. "As a whistleblower, my heart is heavy but my soul is at peace.”
Specht said O’Connor is one of multiple people interviewed by “60 Minutes.”
He added he also will air his interview with O’Connor at 11 Sunday night after the “60 Minutes” piece airs.
The decision of the CBS program “60 Minutes” to work with Specht is a boost to Channel 7, which is an ABC affiliate and a competitor to Channel 4.
However, Specht has owned the story on local television.
In a text exchange with The Buffalo News, Specht said his dealings with O’Connor started when she began emailing him early on a fake email account, and they continued in a way that recalled how Watergate was broken.
“Then after she left her job, I approached her,” said Specht. “We met for the first time in an empty parking lot and it went from there."