The Problems with “Credibility” and Review Boards
The Diocese of Buffalo continues to be among the nation’s leading dioceses in terms of obfuscation and minimization of abuse. The latest news from upstate New York shows that the diocesan review board in Buffalo had examined the cases of 27 priests – at least 13 of whom had been accused of abusing children – but declined to substantiate the claims.
Attorneys for the diocese argue that the claims were found unsubstantiated because the priests in question were deceased or only had one claim against them. But just because someone has since passed away does not mean they never hurt children or vulnerable adults. Even worse, to dismiss a claim because it is the only one that has been brought forward flies in the face of what we know about the reporting of sexual violence: it is often after the first accusation has been made public that others who experienced abuse are empowered to come forward and share their own stories.
The standard for credibility should not be “two or more complaints.” The standard for credibility should be “is this person’s claim credible.” Lay review boards are meant to be trusted to examine each allegation on its own merits, but the Buffalo review board was derelict in this duty. Each person who had a hand in keeping these claims hidden should immediately resign or be fired.
Bishop Robert Malone says that he has “made significant strides to increase transparency.” Clearly, those significant strides have not been enough. We look forward to the result of the Federal Grand Jury that has been empaneled to examine abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo and for secular authorities to give us the transparency that communities in the Diocese of Buffalo deserve.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 SNAPnetwork.org)