Retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz, who for years was one of the Diocese of Buffalo’s point men for handling sexual abuse claims against clergy, is now facing his own allegation of abuse.
Grosz, who has denied abusing a child or an adult, “voluntary” agreed to step aside from church activities pending an investigation, the diocese said in a statement.
“He is the bishop that would contact survivors after reports that were made,” said Jeff Anderson, one of the attorneys representing the anonymous accuser and hundreds of others across the country.
“He was the bishop that was supposed to be handling this issue. And he is the bishop thus that has not only betrayed this survivor by exploiting and assaulting him but by betraying so many survivors for so long by being part of the concealment.”
The lawsuit, filed by the accuser in Genesee County Supreme Court, states that prior to being abused by Grosz in 1990 while at a confirmation, he was sexually abused by The Rev. Richard Keppeler from 1985 to 1990 while a member of St. Brigid in Bergen.
Keppeler, the pastor of St. Brigid, died in 2011, and Grosz was the principal celebrant, according to his obituary notice. Keppeler is accused of sexual abuse in several other cases filed under the Child Victims Act, which expires next month.
The lawsuit states that while at a confirmation in 1990, when the accuser was 15, Grosz allegedly “engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with Plaintiff…”
Jeff Anderson and Steve Boyd, the 46-year-old accuser’s attorneys, held a press conference in front of the diocese headquarters in downtown Buffalo on Tuesday.
A statement from the accuser was read by Boyd: “My family has been aware of the inappropriate contact with bishop grosz since it happened 31 years ago. I first told my mother the full extent of that interaction 13 years ago. I am ready now with the support of my family and my attorneys to let the legal process run its course.”
It was at this confirmation in 1990, his attorneys said, that the accuser had planned to tell Grosz about the abuse by Keppeler. Boyd said his client thought, “this was my chance to tell the bishop, this is my chance to blow him in and to get him taken away, and he was betrayed by the bishop. And he realized almost immediately that the bishop was just like Keppeler.”
“As this person walked up to make his confirmation, a sacrament, Bishop Grosz was heard to say to Keppeler, ‘Oh Dick, you were right about this one, he looks like he could be in GQ Magazine.’”
Boyd said they have interviewed at least three witnesses, including the accuser’s grandmother, of the interaction their client had with Grosz and of when Grosz allegedly took the accuser into a separate room. Boyd said witnesses told him that Grosz was “constantly” by his side “with his hands on him.”
Boyd said the accuser’s grandmother had admonished Grosz to “get your hands off my grandson.”
“They saw him groping him, they did not know the extent of what had gone on, but the grandmother had got into it with the bishop at a reception,” Boyd said.
“We are very confident in our survivor’s story and in this case, and all of the others, we have been very careful to vet all of them,” Boyd said.
Boyd also said that in the coming days more names of accused priests that are not on the public list released by the Diocese of Buffalo will be revealed, some possible after the window closes to file a lawsuit.
The last time the diocese released a list of priests it deemed “credibly accused” was in October 2019, with 75 priests and 22 religious order priests.
As a result, both Boyd and Anderson urged the diocese to release the names of all accused priests.
“Come clean with all the names …,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, who said his firm has filed more than 300 cases in this region.
“Because they have released a list but it is a half list, which makes it a half-truth, which makes it a dangerous whole lie.”