Diocese of Buffalo issues response to claims by former seminarian

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Diocese of Buffalo issued a rebuking response Tuesday night to accusations from a former seminarian. Matthew Bojanowski withdrew from Christ the King Seminary this week and joined the group of those calling for the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone over his handling of clergy sex abuse.

Bojanowski claims he was sexually harassed by Rev. Jeffrey Nowak, and filed a complaint in November 2018.

“A follow-up letter was sent to Bishop Malone in January 2019,” Bojanowski said Tuesday. “However, no action was taken to stop Father Nowak’s malicious, relentless retaliations.”

In its response, a diocesan spokeswoman said in March 2019, Steven Halter, the Director of the diocese’s Office of Professional Responsibility, interviewed Bojanowski and his mother. The spokeswoman also noted that Halter interviewed Rev. Nowak several times, and that there are still many interviews to be conducted before the investigation is completed.

Earlier this month, the diocese announced that Nowak was being removed from ministry, and that he was directed to undergo a behavioral assessment.

“In my opinion and based on my personal experience, Steve Halter is employed by Bishop Malone to protect Bishop Malone,” Bojanowski also said.

In response, the diocesan spokeswoman said, “When he took his position as Director of the Office of Professional Responsibility, (Halter) told Bishop Malone that he intended to conduct his investigations at the diocese in the same way he did in his previous career.”

Halter is a former FBI agent.

“Mr. Halter has made it clear on several occasions that he is not at the diocese to protect Bishop Malone,” the spokeswoman added.

Bojanowski went on: “I am calling for the immediate excommunication of Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone for not honoring the seal of my confession and probing my confessor, Father Nowak.”

The diocesan spokeswoman stressed that Rev. Nowak denied that he shared information Bojanowski confessed to him.

“Mr. Bojanowski has not provided any specific evidence to support his claim that the seal of the confessional has been broken,” she said.

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