A Buffalo Diocese priest who had been suspended due to a sex abuse allegation was cleared by a diocese investigation to return as pastor of a Clarence parish.
Bishop Richard J. Malone said Friday that he was allowing the Rev. Ronald P. Sajdak back into active ministry following a diocese investigation that determined the allegation “was not substantiated.” Sajdak will return to Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Clarence, where he has been pastor since 2015.
In an emailed statement, Malone said the Diocesan Review Board met Thursday and reviewed a report by investigator Scott F. Riordan about the allegations.
Sajdak was suspended in early November, after a man accused Sajdak of blackmailing him into an abusive sexual relationship in the 1970s. The man said he was 13 when the abuse started and that the blackmail and sexual relationship lasted 10 years.
Sajdak, 63, also was a teenager when the accuser alleges that the abuse began.
A lawyer for the man who made the allegation against Sajdak called Malone’s decision “shocking.”
"I'm shocked, surprised, and yet somehow expected it," said the attorney, Kevin Stocker. The diocese, he added, doesn't "know how to do the right thing."
A voicemail seeking comment from Sajdak was not returned.
This year, 19 priests have been put on administrative leave due to an allegation of sexual abuse or misconduct. Malone now has cleared four of the priests of wrongdoing, including Sajdak, and reinstated them. Accusations against five of the 19 priests were determined to be credible and forwarded on to the Vatican for further review. Complaints against 10 priests who remain on leave are still being investigated.
In addition to the priests still on leave due to investigations into alleged misconduct, the diocese since March has acknowledged that 78 priests who served in the Buffalo Diocese since 1960 have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct.