The Diocese of Buffalo has placed a retired priest on administrative leave for an allegation of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl.
Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston-based attorney for the accuser, told News 4 Investigates that his client was abused in the late 1960s, while The Rev. John J. Sardina served at the Coronation of Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Buffalo.
Sardina, 86, now lives at the Msgr. Coniff Residence in Depew with other retired priests. He has been a priest for 68 years.
“I never abused a child in my life,” Sardinia told News 4 Investigates by phone Wednesday night.
“I’ve got no recollection on this,” Sardina said. “I have no idea who the girl is.”
Sardina told News 4 Investigates that Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz came to his residence a few weeks ago to discuss the allegation. The diocese has used Grosz to confront priests about allegations and provide details of what they are accused of doing.
“That’s what he told me, ‘not to worry about it,’” Sardina said.
Garabedian said that if Grosz did tell the priest not to worry about the allegation, “it shows a lack of objectivity and indicates that he is biased when investigating allegations of clergy sexual abuse.”
“We have a kangaroo court investigating criminality within its own ranks and unfortunately the process is unfair to the victims,” Garabedian said.
Sardina admitted to News 4 Investigates that he had “consensual” sex with women and that church officials sent him away for counseling more than 10 years ago “to see what they could do to get me away from women.”
“And it worked out pretty good,” Sardina said.
He later said: “I have no idea what happened, when it happened, it just happened, OK? I paid my dues and that’s the end of it.”
The Buffalo Diocese released a short statement on Thursday, one day after News 4 Investigates spoke with Sardinia.
“After receiving an abuse complaint against Father John J. Sardina, Bishop Richard J. Malone has placed Father Sardina on administrative leave as an investigation continues,” the diocese said.
“This administrative leave is for the purpose of investigation and does not imply any determination as to the truth or falsity of the complaint.”
Later, the diocese provided another statement to News 4 Investigates, stating that the decision to place Sardina on administrative leave was made Sept. 6, which also happens to be the last time that the Review Board met to discuss new clergy sexual abuse allegations.
Sardina asked during the interview, “isn’t there a limitation on this stuff,” referring to the statute of limitations on sexual abuse allegations
“I want to enjoy my retirement. I don’t care what the hell happened, it happened,” Sardina said.
Sardina said he’s “sick and tired about hearing all of this stuff, whatever it is.”
When asked what he meant, he said: “What do I think it is? I think it’s because we’re human and we make mistakes. If that’s the statement you want to hear, you heard it.”
In March, the diocese released the names of 42 priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors. The list includes only priests with more than one allegation made against them, the diocese said.
More priests have since been accused, but the diocese has not updated the list.
“Earlier this year when the diocese announced the list of priests against whom the diocese had received allegations of abuse, we again asked people to come forward if they were aware of any past abuse,” the diocese said in a prepared statement.
“And they did. We promised that we would add more names to the list. And we will.”