Four priests have been reinstated by Bishop Michael W. Fisher following a recommendation by the Buffalo Diocese's Independent Review Board, which conducted investigations and a review that determined allegations against the priests are unsubstantiated, the diocese announced Thursday.
The priests, who were previously placed on administrative leave by the bishop and were reinstated are:
• The Rev. Adolph Kowalczyk, pastor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Orchard Park.
• The Rev. Gregory Dobson, a retired priest who continues to assist in various parishes of the Diocese.
• The Rev. Matt Nycz, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul in Williamsville.
• The Rev. Msgr. James G. Kelly, an 83-year-old retired priest of the diocese who also continues to assist in parish ministry.
According to a statement released Thursday by the diocese, rigorous policies and protocols were followed with regard to investigating allegations that were made against the priests, including notifying the Erie County District Attorney's Office, which declined to act on any of the allegations.
Kowalczyk, Dobson and Nycz were accused of providing a student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Elementary School in Orchard Park with access to four girls and encouraged the youngsters to participate in sexual acts that the victim fears were secretly filmed in the 1990s, according to a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the Buffalo Diocese.
Allegations against Kelly were not tied to Sacred Heart Elementary. Kelly was named in two separate CVA suits filed against him in State Supreme Court. One filed in June emanated from when he was pastor at St. Margaret's Catholic Church in North Buffalo in which an unnamed plaintiff accused him of engaging in unpermitted sexual contact with a minor from 2005 to 2007. In the other lawsuit, a plaintiff alleged that Kelly molested him from 1980 to 1982 when the plaintiff was an 8- to 10-year-old student at the Diocesan Educational Center and attended church at St. Nicholas and St. Benedict the Moor. The school and both parishes are now defunct.
Joseph G. Makowski, an attorney for Kelly, spoke to The Buffalo News by phone on behalf of his client Thursday.
"After three months of a thorough investigation by the Independent Review Board, it was determined that the charges against monsignor were unsubstantiated. Monsignor has been a priest for 59 years in the Buffalo Diocese, and he has been a distinguished priest," Makowski said. "On his behalf, he looks forward to returning to the ministry and continuing to perform his duties for the benefit of the Catholic community that he services."
An attorney for the diocese also reached out to attorneys of those who made accusations against the priests. Some of those who made allegations against the priest cooperated in the board's investigation, and one refused to cooperate.
The diocese is encouraging anyone who seeks to report an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual harassment by a member of the clergy, diocesan employee or volunteer to contact the Victims Assistance Coordinator at 895-3010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.