An 87-year-old Erie County man is suing the Buffalo Diocese, alleging that he was abused in the early 1940s by a Catholic priest and two nuns at a Catholic school in Silver Creek.
The man claimed in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Erie County State Supreme Court that Monsignor Edmund O’Connor and Sister Mary and Sister Veronica “engaged in unpermitted, forcible and harmful sexual contact” with him on church and school grounds, beginning when he was in third grade and continuing through eighth grade at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church and School.
The man, who is not named, is the oldest plaintiff in Western New York to file a Child Victims Act case to date. The priest he is accusing of abuse died more than 55 years ago.
The lawsuit alleges that O’Connor, Sister Mary and Sister Veronica “groomed” the plaintiff by giving him “special praise and attention, bringing him on trips, giving him ice cream and/or gifts, and other forms of compensation.” The lawsuit marks the first time O’Connor has been publicly accused of child sexual abuse. The suit did not include last names for the two nuns.
After the alleged abuse, the abusers then threatened the plaintiff to keep him silent, according to the lawsuit filed by attorneys Diane Paolicelli and Michael DeRuve of Manhattan and Paul K. Barr of Niagara Falls.
“They also manipulated plaintiff to believe that no one would believe him if he spoke out,” the lawsuit said.
O’Connor was a native of Guelph, Ont., and was ordained as a priest in 1907 in Rome, Italy, according to a 1947 article in the Lake Shore News. In 1962, the Knights of Columbus named a new council in Silver Creek the Monsignor Edmund J. O’Connor Council in memory of the priest, according to another Lake Shore News article.
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