Buffalo bishop resigns after being accused of covering up child sex abuse

by Jordyn Pair · Dec 4th, 2019 9:51 am
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Last Updated Dec 4th, 2019 at 11:26 am

The Catholic bishop of Buffalo has resigned after accusations that he covered up the sexual abuse of children within the diocese.

The Vatican announced on Wednesday that it had accepted Bishop Richard Malone's resignation, although it did not give a reason, per its standard practice.

However, there had been increased pressure to remove Malone after a second member of his staff leaked documents revealing how allegations of sexual abuse and harassment had been mishandled in the diocese.

Malone himself has also been accused of sexual abuse of a child, although he denies the claim.

More than 500 lawsuits have been filed across the dioceses since August after a new state law extended the statute of limitations. The law opens a one-year period for alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place.

As a result, all eight Catholic dioceses in New York have been dealing with problems related to the sexual abuse scandal for the past four months. The Diocese of Rochester filed for bankruptcy in September and bankruptcy lawyers said they expect more dioceses, including Buffalo, to do the same.

It began last year when Malone's administrative assistant accused the bishop of covering up accusations of abuse against priests in the diocese. The diocese released a list in March of 48 priests who had been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. The list had originally include more than 100 priests, but had been edited before being publicly released.

The bishop's secretary also released a tape in September of Malone discussing with advisers in August how to prevent the story of an accused priest from reaching the media.

"It could force me to resign if in fact they make a story," Malone is heard saying on the tape.

Parishioners began calling for Malone's resignation in September.

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, is currently serving as acting bishop of Buffalo until a permanent replacement can be found.

Read Malone's statement of resignation here.

Follow Jordyn Pair on Twitter at @JordynPair.