FBI en­gaged in wide-rang­ing sex abuse probe

Wit­nesses, vic­tims across WNY in­ter­viewed as agents seek ev­i­dence of cover-up by dio­cese

The Buffalo News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jay Tokasz and Dan Her­beck NEWS STAFF RE­PORTERS

Mark Lynch says he was mo­lested by a priest when he was 13. The abuse hap­pened 50 years ago, well be­yond when a sex crime could be pros­e­cuted.

But the FBI wanted to know more, any­way.

Lynch said two fed­eral agents vis­ited him at his Youngstown home about a month ago, armed with ques­tions about the abuse and the Catholic Dio­cese of Buf­falo’s re­sponse to his al­le­ga­tions against the Rev. Joseph Schus­ter.

“We sat at my kitchen ta­ble for about an hour, and I told them what hap­pened. They were very thor­ough and al­ready had a file on me. They had done their home­work,” said Lynch. “They asked a lot of ques­tions about who I spoke to, who I re­ported the in­ci­dent to at the dio­cese. They told me they hope to talk with ev­ery­one who has come for­ward with a com­plaint.”

Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties have fanned out across West­ern New York to learn more about a clergy abuse scan­dal that un­til now largely has been ig­nored by law en­force­ment.

“They’re re­ally look­ing for proof of a cover-up,” said Ni­cole Deli­sio Wright, an ad­vo­cate for vic­tims of clergy abuse. “Any type of proof that there’s a wide­spread cover-up.”

The ag­gres­sive fed­eral in­ter­est is hap­pen­ing in other parts of the coun­try, as well.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported in Oc­to­ber that U.S. At­tor­ney Wil­liam McSwain of Philadel­phia sent out fed­eral sub­poe­nas to eight dio­ce­ses in Penn­syl­va­nia seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about priests tak­ing chil­dren across state lines for sex and view­ing child pornog­ra­phy.

McSwain also wants to know if dio­ce­ses re­as­signed preda­tors or used church funds or as­sets to cover up sex­ual mis­con­duct, and he de­manded that the church turn over se­cret ar­chive files, as well as fi­nan­cial, per­son­nel and treat­ment records.

Fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cials also were part of a Nov. 28 raid of the of­fices of the Arch­dio­cese of Galve­ston-Hous­ton in search of doc­u­ments,

In­ves­ti­ga­tion on Page A8

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