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Child Victims lawsuit names former secretary to a Buffalo Diocese bishop

A Cheektowaga pastor who was a top assistant to a former Buffalo Diocese bishop is one of six men named in one of the nearly 100 Child Victims Act lawsuits filed early Wednesday in Erie and Niagara counties.

Monsignor Peter Popadick, 74, pastor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church and the secretary for former Bishop Edward D. Head, is accused of being one of four priests who raped and molested a boy, beginning when he was 10 or 11 years old. Two teachers are also alleged to have raped the same boy.

Popadick spent more than 20 years as the secretary to Head, who was the Buffalo Diocese bishop from 1972 until 1995.

An Erie County man now in his early 60s alleges that he was raped and molested numerous times by four different priests, including Popadick and another current pastor, beginning when he was 10 or 11 years old. Attorney Paul K. Barr alleges in court papers that the child was also molested by two lay teachers at St. Mary of Sorrows Church and School in Buffalo.

The accusation against six people is highly unusual. No other local victim who has spoken to The News has ever alleged to have been molested by four priests.

Court papers name Popadick, Rev. Joseph Frank Tuchols, Rev. Paul Nogaro and a former wrestling coach only identified as “Father Mike.” The lawsuit also names two men identified as teachers at St. Mary’s, Thomas Krachowiak and another teacher who was only partially identified, as molesters of the boy. It says the plaintiff was molested at St. Mary of Sorrows and at the old Bishop Fallon High School in Buffalo.

Popadick, through a church secretary, declined to comment.

Nogaro, 74, who is pastor at St. Stephen’s Church on Grand Island, denied the allegations, saying he has never molested anyone at any of the churches where he has worked.

“I don’t know who is accusing me, but I absolutely deny it because I have never done this to anyone in 48 years as a priest,” Nogaro told The Buffalo News. “Even though the truth is on my side, this destroys my life. … this supposedly happened more than 50 years ago. I don’t think it is fair that someone can make an accusation like this against you without even using their name.”

Tuchols, a former director of pastoral care at what was then called Children's Hospital, was sentenced to a year of probation by a federal judge in June 1995. Tuchols, 49, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of crack cocaine. He was arrested by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

In court papers, the alleged victim accused Tuchols of giving him "pills and alcohol" before molesting him at multiple locations.

Barr said he has no evidence that the priests were acting in collaboration when they allegedly abused the victim.

“This kid had a difficult childhood, and things were going on in his home that made him very accessible to predators,” Barr said.

[Click here to read the lawsuit]

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