60 Minutes aired a special report on the Buffalo Diocese Sunday night, interviewing the former executive assistant to Bishop Richard Malone turned whistleblower, Siobhan O’Connor.
The report cited several secret documents O’Connor had copied.
60 Minutes reports that according to those documents, under Bishop Malone the Diocese kept certain priests accused of child sexual abuse in ministry.
Days before the 60 Minutes piece aired, News 4 spoke exclusively to Malone, who declined an interview with 60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker.
“When I arrived in the Diocese six years ago, one of the first questions I asked my senior team was, can I be certain that any priest with a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor is off the job? Is out of ministry? And they said yes you can because they had been removed,” Malone told News 4 last week.
The case of Father Art Smith and Father Fabian Maryanski challenge the Bishop’s account.
The two priests, both accused of sexual misconduct with minors, were not included in a list of 42 priests released by the Diocese in March.
Records obtained by 60 Minutes show that after Fr. Smith was accused of inappropriately touching two young boys, Bishop Malone endorsed him for a job as a cruise ship chaplain.
Malone writes “I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children,” in a Church file obtained by 60 Minutes.
Fr. Maryanski, accused of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, was left off the list of 42 priests because Church leadership “did not remove him from ministry despite full knowledge of the case, so including him on the list might require explanation,” the 60 Minutes report said.
Whitaker also spoke with Deacon Paul Snyder III of St. Mary’s in Swormvillle and Father Robert Zilliox of the same parish.
“I think the hypocrisy, the lip service. The ‘yes Bob I agree with you’ and then I would walk out of an office and nothing would happen,” Fr. Zilliox told Whitaker.
Zilliox served as counsel to Bishop Malone until May.
“A lot of cases probably should have gone to Rome at the time, they did not,” he said.
Malone told News 4 that some cases in the past were not sent to Rome.
“They were supposed to have been. I did that in Maine and we were doing it elsewhere, it just didn’t happen and I can’t track down the reason for it,” Bishop Malone told News 4.
Malone said he’s been working to prepare cases to go to Vatican for a formal judgment.
News 4 has asked the Diocese how many cases have been sent to Rome and when they were sent there.
We are still waiting on a response.
Below is a exchange between 60 Minutes’ Whitaker and Fr. Zilliox:
Whitaker: “How many of those priests should have been taken out of the priesthood?”
Zilliox: “I would argue at least 8 or 9.”
Whitaker: “How many of them still are in the priesthood here in Buffalo?”
Zilliox:”All of them.”
News 4 has also asked the Diocese for a response to Zilliox’s statement in the 60 Minutes report. As a priest within the Diocese of Buffalo, Bishop Malone could strip Zilliox of his duties.
None of our specific questions were addressed by the Buffalo Diocese. Instead, a statement was released on the Diocese’s website calling the 60 Minutes report “incomplete, out of context and in some cases plainly inaccurate”.
The Diocese did not provide any specific examples from the report.
“People will make up their own minds once they have heard our response to these stories. For our part, at the Diocese of Buffalo, we intend to better utilize our platforms moving forward as a catalyst to share important information, especially about the abuse crisis,” the statement reads.