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Buffalo bishop's former secretary gave church documents to FBI

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The former Buffalo Diocese employee who leaked clergy sex abuse documents to a local television station has recently turned over to the FBI some of those documents.

Siobhan O'Connor said she gave "the most pertinent documents I had" to FBI agents about two weeks ago and answered whatever questions they had.

"I knew that law enforcement needed to step in," O'Connor said in an interview Tuesday. "I want people to be as much at ease as possible that the authorities have the proper information. My goal always was to go to law enforcement."

She declined to comment further on what information the FBI agents sought.

At a news conference outside the diocese headquarters where she had worked for three years, O'Connor said Bishop Richard J. Malone and Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz should resign over their handling of the clergy sexual abuse crisis.

O'Connor, who leaked diocese records to WKBW-TV in August and then appeared on "60 Minutes" on Sunday, said she still loves the church.

"I still care about you, Bishop Malone," she said. "That's the hard part. It would actually be easier if I didn't care."

But she said that she doesn't think Malone can continue to lead the diocese because he led efforts to cover up allegations against some priests.

O'Connor appeared with her attorney, Mitchell Garabedian of Boston, who helped expose the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston and represents clergy abuse victims seeking compensation from the Buffalo Diocese.

Malone hired O'Connor in 2015 as his administrative assistant. She worked inside the diocese chancery on Main Street until resigning in August to take another job. She spoke with the media Tuesday on the sidewalk of St. Louis Church, across the street from the chancery - the same spot where Michael F. Whalen Jr. set the Buffalo clergy abuse scandal in motion last February by publicly accusing the Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits of molesting him as a boy.

O'Connor recalled standing in a fourth-floor conference room watching Whalen's news conference unfold.

"I remember that I wanted to come over here and I wanted to shake his hand and let him know that at least one person - and I hope more of us in that building - supported him," said O'Connor.

Orsolits said in an interview with The News after Whalen's new conference that he didn't remember Whalen. But he also admitted that he molested "probably dozens" of boys in the 1970s and 1980s, and he didn't deny that Whalen may have been one of his victims.

O'Connor said she tried for months to do what she could on the inside of the chancery before realizing that Malone would respond only to outside media scrutiny.

O'Connor retained Garabedian in case of any potential legal fallout related to the document leak. Soon after a series of reports based on the documents aired on WKBW-TV, the diocese took steps to identify the leaker and clamped down on security.

"If there are any repercussions, I represent Siobhan O'Connor," said Garabedian.

Malone and other Catholic leaders, he added, are "the ones who've been allowing innocent children to be sexually abused. They're the ones that should fear criminal repercussions, not this brave woman."

Kathy Spangler, a diocese spokeswoman, said this week that the diocese is not pursuing legal action against O'Connor.

The Rev. Robert Zilliox, a former adviser to Malone on canon law issues, told “60 Minutes” that the bishop ignored his recommendations for eight or nine priests to be removed from the priesthood due to misconduct allegations.

Spangler said Zilliox will remain as pastor of St. Mary Church in Swormville. She also said that Malone was not pursuing any disciplinary action against the priest for his public criticisms of the bishop.

The diocese, she said, also was seeking to clarify who Zilliox was referencing in his comments about eight or nine priests.

Zilliox did not return a voicemail for comment on the statements he made to "60 Minutes."

O'Connor said couldn't comment on the eight or nine priests mentioned by Zilliox because "it's being investigated by law enforcement."

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