Abuse Allegations Against Deceased Buffalo Priest Demonstrate that the Abuse Crisis is Still Very Current in the Roman Catholic Church

One of the most common refrains that is heard when new stories come out regarding abuse perpetrated by Roman Catholic clergy is that “these cases are decades old, the bad priests have been identified, and the abuse crisis is over.” In reality, abuse and cover-up remains a problem within the church today as this article detailing abuse from 2017 in Buffalo demonstrates.

According to the article, a now-deceased priest named Fr. Robert Yetter is the most recent priest in New York to be accused of abuse after he was named in a lawsuit thanks to New York’s Child Victims Act. The lawsuit alleges that Fr. Yetter abused the plaintiff while Fr. Yetter worked at St. Mary Church in Swormville, New York. This latest allegation against Yetter is not his first, but is further evidence that abusers tend to abuse throughout the entirety of their lives.

Another commonality in this case is that the victim was afraid to report the abuse while the abuser was still living, a fear that is not uncommon among survivors of abuse. This fear, alongside other facts, underscore the reality of delayed disclosure. It is a demonstrable fact that there is a lag in reporting cases of sexual violence, In the US, the average age at which a survivor of abuses comes forward is 52, so we would expect victims of abuse that occurred in the early 2000s and 2010s to start coming forward in the 2040s and 2050s.

While church officials are quick to say the lack of new reports of abuse are thanks to the Dallas Charter, there is no real way to demonstrate that the charter has been the bulwark that church officials promised. Another fact is that, on average, two Catholic church priest, deacons, or other employees are arrested per month. The reality is that there is no valid diagnostic tool to diagnose pedophilia and pretending that the Church has created some tool that knows whether or not someone will abuse a child in the future is simply fantasy that makes parents and parishioners less vigilant, exposing children to danger.

The simple fact is that it will take decades to tell whether the Dallas Charter has had the impact that church officials claim it has. Rather than pretend that this document has solved the abuse crisis, we think a better way to protect children is for church hierarchs to be fully transparent regarding all cases of abuse past and present, to publish and continuously update lists of abusers, and for parents and parishioners to take an active role in promoting child safety within their parish.

CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected]267) 261-0578 ), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is www.SNAPnetwork.org



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