AG Letitia James files lawsuit against Diocese of Buffalo, former leaders for handling of sexual abuse allegations


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–A lawsuit was filed Monday against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and its former senior leaders Bishop Richard Malone and former Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz.

The lawsuit states the two “failed to follow mandated policies and procedures that would help to prevent the rampant sexual abuse of minors by priests within the Catholic Church,” according to State Attorney General Letitia James.

James says her office, during a two-year investigation, found that allegations of improper sexual conduct against diocesan priests in Buffalo were “inadequately investigated, if at all, and were covered up for years.”

In a release sent out Monday, James claims the diocese’s leadership found sexual abuse complaints to be credible but sheltered the accused priests from public disclosure by deeming them as “unassignable.” She says they permitted the accused to retire or go on medical leave, rather than face referral to the Vatican for possible removal from priesthood.

When trust is broken with spiritual leaders, it can lead to a crisis of faith. For years, the Diocese of Buffalo and its leadership failed to protect children from sexual abuse. Instead, they chose to protect the very priests who were credibly accused of these atrocious acts. Individuals who are victims of abuse deserve to have their claims timely investigated and determined, and the Buffalo Diocese refused to give them that chance. While we will never be able to undo the wrongs of the past, I can guarantee that my office will do everything in its power to ensure trust, transparency, and accountability moving forward.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James

AG James also filed a motion to allow for the disclosure of the accused priests’ names and alleged conduct outlined in the complaint.

The diocese responding this afternoon saying:

We will be reviewing this lawsuit just announced by the New York Attorney General and weighing the Diocese’s response.  In the meantime, we wish to reiterate that there is zero tolerance for sexual abuse of a minor or of sexual harassment of an adult in the Diocese of Buffalo by any member of the clergy, employee or volunteer.  The Diocese has put in place rigorous policies and protocols governing required behavior as well as a code of conduct which all clergy are expected to abide by.  Moreover, the Diocese has committed to full cooperation with all civil authorities in both the reporting and investigation of alleged crimes and complaints.”

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