In August 2018, an anonymous individual leaked sensitive church documents regarding clergy abuse to Buffalo ABC-affiliate WKBW. That person has now gone public with her story on a recent episode of CBS News “60 Minutes”. Her name is Siobhan O’Connor, and what she has uncovered details an orchestrated effort to coverup clergy abuse dating back decades in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
O’Connor had been an executive assistant to Bishop Richard Malone at the Buffalo diocese. In her 3 years there, she had personally seen documents detailing abuse claims of over 100 priests, and fielded dozens calls from abuse victims. She took her concerns to Bishop Malone himself, and had faith that her church would adequately handle the allegations. She would find out that Bishop Malone was not interested in helping the victims of abuse – but was actively trying to bury the allegations. When confronted by O’Connor, he would state that these issues “were not of her concern”. This left O’Connor, in her own words, “morally allergic” to the actions of her church.
In March 2018, Bishop Malone and the Diocese publicly released a list of 42 priests who had abuse claims levied against them. This was a far cry from the 100+ priests O’Connor had personally seen and heard reports about. Over the course of the next few months, O’Connor systematically gathered copies and photographs of hundreds of key documents, including a 300-page dossier produced by a local law firm detailing abuse against the clergy and their strategies to fight the accusations. In August 2018, O’Connor anonymously leaked these documents to the local press and subsequently left her job at the church.
Local Buffalo television station WKBW reported on the documents in a two-part investigatory series. The report centers around two priests, Father Arthur Smith and Father Robert Yetter, both of whom were left off Diocese public list of abusers despite still being active in the ministry and having recent claims made against them.
These media stories have now spurred the involvement of the Federal Government. Just two weeks ago, The Buffalo News reported that the Justice Department has opened its first ever investigation into child abuse within the Catholic Church. All eight Pennsylvania dioceses, along with the diocese of Buffalo, have confirmed receiving federal grand jury subpoenas. The subpoenas seek records of church finances, clergy assignments, insurance coverage, and confidential personnel files. According to a story in the Press Herald, sources familiar with the matter said agents are looking at potential crimes such as aiding and abetting child exploitation, child pornography, and transporting minors across state lines for the purposes of engaging in sex.
At Williams Cedar, our clergy abuse lawyers fully support the removal of the unfair restrictions of the statute of limitations to enable survivors of clergy abuse to receive the justice they deserve. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, please call us at 215-557-0099 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout New York, Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and nationwide.