BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen told News 4 on Friday that he spoke with the woman who filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against him – and he claims she told him her accusations never happened.
“From the beginning of these allegations, I’ve maintained my innocence. It never occurred,” Pridgen said. “I’ve maintained if I met her, it must have been casual because I don’t know who the person is and that they are definitely not a member of our congregation. To hear her say these words that they didn’t do it, it was the right thing to do. And she has said those words to me personally.”
The lawsuit against Pridgen, who leads True Bethel Baptist Church, was filed Tuesday in State Supreme Court by a woman who claimed to be a parishioner. Pridgen told News 4 on Wednesday that neither he nor anyone in his church community recognized the name of the woman who filed the suit.
The 18-page lawsuit alleges that the woman was sexually assaulted by Pridgen at least seven times after church services in 2020, when the woman was 45. She seeks damages from both Pridgen and True Bethel. News 4 is continuing to withhold her name because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault.
Antigone Curis, the New York City-based lawyer for the alleged accuser, did not respond to requests for comment after Pridgen’s interview. She responded earlier Friday to a Buffalo News report by saying her client “has repeatedly refused phone calls from the Buffalo News and media alike. She has made no such representation.”
Pridgen’s lawyers, Paul Cambria and Joseph Manna, sent a letter to Curis on Friday that demands her client drop the lawsuit.
“In light of [the accuser’s] statement to the Buffalo News and her pastor, we demand that you immediately file a notice of discontinuance with prejudice. Failure to do so will result in additional litigation,” the letter stated, according to a copy obtained by News 4.
Pridgen said he did not attempt to contact the accuser, but was connected to her by someone who reached out to him.
“What I am positive of and know is that I am innocent of any of those allegations and never has that ever occurred in my office or anywhere else,” Pridgen said. “… I have not wavered, and I maintained that and I’ll maintain it to my death, because this did not occur.”
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook, Twitter and Threads. See more of his work here.