A second allegation of sexual abuse of a child has been filed against a Catholic priest who was recently returned to ministry by the Buffalo Diocese after it ruled a prior complaint was unsubstantiated.
The diocese allowed the Rev. Paul M. Nogaro to resume practicing as a priest on Jan. 17, after saying it was unable to substantiate the allegations made against him in a Child Victims Act lawsuit last August that accused him of molesting a child about 50 years ago.
On Thursday, Nogaro was accused in a second lawsuit, by a man who alleged Nogaro molested him when he was 10 to 12 years old. The lawsuit claims the alleged abuse occurred in the 1990s, when Nogaro was assigned to St. Gregory the Great Church in Williamsville.
Paul K. Barr, the attorney for both of the men who accused Nogaro, said he believes the diocese has made “a big mistake” by allowing Nogaro to return to his duties as a priest.
“They’ve done this before and it’s gotten them into trouble – restoring a priest to duty after he’s been accused,” Barr said.
Nogaro’s attorney, Edward C. Cosgrove described Nogaro Friday as a “wonderful minister to Catholics” and said both allegations against the priest are untrue.
“I have some serious doubts about the lawyers’ work product in these lawsuits,” Cosgrove told The Buffalo News.
Diocese spokesman Greg Tucker said Nogaro – who was pastor of St. Stephen Catholic Church on Grand Island but is now retired – will not be put on leave again unless the diocese receives more specific information about the new allegation against him.
“The diocese can’t begin an investigation without an identity and with the specifics involved,” Tucker said. “There’s nothing specific that gives the diocese a lever to initiate its own investigation.”
Under the church’s canon law process, a priest usually is put on administrative leave while the diocese investigates to determine whether a child sex abuse allegation can be substantiated or not.
In the lawsuit filed in August, an Erie County man in his early 60s claimed that he was molested numerous times by four different priests, including Nogaro, beginning when he was 10 or 11 years old. The lawsuit, which named the Buffalo Diocese as a defendant, also claimed that two lay teachers from local Catholic schools molested the same victim.
The accusation against six people is highly unusual. No other local victim has ever alleged to have been molested by four different priests.
“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 News in August.
The new lawsuit names the diocese, Nogaro and St. Gregory the Great as defendants.
Barr said it is possible that some Child Victims Act plaintiffs could make up allegations, or possibly accuse the wrong person, but he said his clients are not.
“I have spent hours talking to every one of our clients who has made charges against a priest. These people would have to be Academy Award nominees to make up the emotions they show when telling their stories, including precise details about what happened,” Barr said.
Filing a Child Victims Act lawsuit is far from an easy way to make money, he added.
“It’s a long, emotional process, and eventually you will have to get up in front of a judge and jury and tell these very painful stories,” Barr said. “The diocese may also file bankruptcy soon. I’m a victim myself and I know what these people are going through.”