Buffalo Priest Returns to Ministry Despite Being Named in Second Lawsuit in New York
When it comes to allegations of clergy abuse, Catholic church officials have used a playbook with many different strategies. A key part of that strategy has been to self investigate, with predictable results.
Under Bishop Richard Malone, the playbook also included suppressing allegations against living, working priests. This strategy was used to minimize news that would be embarrassing to him and to the priest, not to prevent other cases of abuse. And part of Malone's playbook was to pretend that if only one abuse allegation had been tendered, then the accused priest must be innocent.
Now with Father Paul Nogaro, we see these tactics all at work. Fr. Nogaro was internally investigated by church officials who claimed they “couldn’t substantiate” an allegation against him. But as is common, when one victim steps forward to tell their stories, it encourages others who have been hurt to come forward as well. Now, Fr. Nogaro faces a second allegation and lawsuit in New York.
Rather than using internal church officials, the Diocese of Buffalo should instead have professionals in law enforcement like the FBI investigate Fr. Nogaro and the scores of abuse allegations in Buffalo. It is obvious there are many, many problems and self-investigation clearly does not work.
Nationwide, with secular investigations such as in Pennsylvania, about 9 victims per priest, on average, come forward. We are not surprised Fr. Nogaro now has been accused twice. There are probably more victims out there and if the Diocese of Buffalo conducts outreach and encourages victims and witnesses to contact A.G Letitia James’ hotline (1-800-771-7755) we believe more victims will come forward because they will believe they will be heard.
With more than 22 states either undertaking secular investigations or modernizing Statue of Limitation laws, dozens and dozens of priests have been arrested, restricted or fled the country. Michigan is now up to ten arrests and they acknowledge another 28 living, unrestricted priests whom the AG could not prosecute because of the archaic statute of limitations laws in that state.
If Michigan, a state with about only about 4% of the total catholic population and priests has upwards of 40 known, living problem priests, imagine how many others are living and working in unsuspecting communities in the other 49 states. The Associated Press identified 1300 living, allegedly abusive priests that are living and working around children. Even that investigation likely is short. The only way to ever scratch the surface of the truth is for secular authorities with subpoena power to take over all investigations. In the meantime, Fr. Nogaro – and any other accused priest – should be suspended again and restricted unless cleared by civil authorities.
(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 SNAPnetwork.org)