50 years after Mark Lynch claims a Buffalo priest sexually abused him, he’s speaking out.
Lynch was raised in a devout Irish Catholic family in Niagara Falls.
“On Good Friday, when Christ hung on the cross, between the hours of 12 and three, we respected three hours of silence,” it’s that tradition, Lynch told News 4, that inspired him to share his story at exactly 3 o’clock on Good Friday.
“In 1968, at the age of 13 I was sexually assaulted by Father Joseph Schuster,” he said on the steps of St. Joseph’s Cathedral Friday.
In the days after the Buffalo Diocese released a list of 42 former priests accused of sexually abusing children, Lynch reached out to News 4 via email.
“When that list came out I was hungry to find his name on that list. And it was not on that list and it was like I was punched in the gut. For some reason that moment made me feel like I didn’t count,” he said.
Aside from stating they are aware of these allegations, a spokesperson for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese would not comment further.
However, a spokesperson has explained that deceased former priests were listed only if they had at least two allegations against them.
As a 13-year-old in Niagara Falls, Lynch said he was drawn to Father Schuster due to his activism in the anti-war movement.
The now 63-year-old told News 4 they met while Schuster was serving at Mt. Carmel parish on a freelance basis.
Lynch recalls Schuster serving at a variety of locations in Niagara County.
According to the Buffalo Diocese, Father Schuster was listed as being assigned to Mt. Carmel from 1973 to 1974.
From 1975 to 1980, Schuster was listed as residing at the Catholic Worker House in Niagara Falls.
After an event in 1968, Lynch recalls it was too dark to ride his bike home. He said the priest invited him to stay over at his apartment.
“I’m sitting in the apartment and I remember the color of the fabric of the furniture. I remember the smell, I’m very detailed about the memory of that. And I remember thinking I’ll sleep on the couch.”
He claims the priest instructed him to share his bed.
“I remember clinging to the edge of the bed, all night long, probably did not sleep, and as soon as the daylight came I got on my bicycle and rode to my house,” Lynch said.
After the alleged assault, he saw Schuster often as a guest speaker at his school, Bishop Duffy.
“He haunted the classes. He haunted the hallways of that high school.”
For decades, Lynch never said a word.
He reportedly told the Buffalo Diocese about abuse in March of this year.
“Speaking out about this at that young age was impossible. As a 13-year-old child, immediately I started to question what did I do to invite this?”
After seeing other survivors come forward, Lynch feels it’s time to bring his pain out in the open so he can really start healing.
The Buffalo Diocese has set up a fund for victims of child sex abuse at the hands of former priests. Lynch told News 4 he’s not interested in any money.
Bishop Richard Malone told the media he wants victims to come forward. He said that original list of 42 priests will be updated as necessary.
A spokesperson from the Diocese released this statement:
“We encourage any victim to start the process of reporting any claim of abuse by calling our Victim Assistance Coordinator at (716) 895-3010. Jacqueline Joy is not only a trained trauma counselor, but she can begin the process of taking a claim. This is what we consider to be ‘step 1’ for any victims. All calls will be returned as soon as possible.”
Abuse survivors looking for more information, click here