Dio­cese sells bishop’s home for $1.5 mil­lion

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jay Tokasz News Staff Re­porter Jonathan Ep­stein con­trib­uted to this re­port.

A long­stand­ing sym­bol of power and pres­tige in the Catholic Dio­cese of Buf­falo has been sold for $1.5 mil­lion, which will go to­ward pay­ing child­hood vic­tims of clergy sex abuse.

A deal to sell the res­i­dence of Bishop Richard J. Malone at 77 Oak­land Place closed Tues­day af­ter­noon.

A dio­cese news re­lease said the buyer was Carmel Oaks LLC, but didn’t iden­tify a per­son con­nected with the sale.

The limited li­a­bil­ity com­pany is af­fil­i­ated with Eric Sten­clik, ac­cord­ing to a search of pub­lic records. Sten­clik coowns an­other man­sion at 94 Oak­land Place, ac­cord­ing to city prop­erty records. He did not re­turn calls seek­ing com­ment about the sale of 77 Oak­land.

Dio­cese spokes­woman Kathy Span­gler con­firmed in early Jan­uary that the dio­cese had a buyer for the bishop’s res­i­dence, but de­clined to com­ment fur­ther. The deal wasn’t of­fi­cial un­til Tues­day.

The dio­cese said in its news re­lease that the man­sion will con­tinue to be used as a res­i­dence.

The Tu­dor manor house, on one of Buf­falo’s most ex­clu­sive streets, had been home to Catholic bish­ops since 1952, when the dio­cese pur­chased it for $50,000.

Malone, the sixth bishop to live in the house, an­nounced last April that the dio­cese would put it on the mar­ket with the in­tent of us­ing pro­ceeds from the sale to shore up its re­sources as it com­pen­sates child­hood vic­tims of clergy sex abuse.

The dio­cese so far has of­fered more than $8 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion to at least 50 vic­tims.

Malone moved into a for­mer con­vent at St. Stanis­laus Church on the East Side.

Some Catholics had urged bish­ops for years to sell the man­sion, say­ing it was too much of a lux­ury to main­tain at a time when parishes, schools and some Catholic mis­sions were forced to close.

Malone has said the sale would rep­re­sent a small sac­ri­fice on the part of the dio­cese to vic­tims who have en­dured the trauma of be­ing abused by a priest.

“We’re go­ing to need that money to help us pay for the IRCP. I don’t want dioce­san min­istries and pro­grams to have to suf­fer be­cause of this. That’s not fair to the pro­grams or to the peo­ple of our dio­cese who’ve given money to sup­port them,” Malone said in an in­ter­view with The Buf­falo News last year, re­fer­ring to the dio­cese’s In­de­pen­dent Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and Com­pen­sa­tion Pro­gram. “So I said I need to give up some­thing, too. That’s not my house. It’s been the dioce­san house for 66 years, so it’s not mine . ... I need to be able to give some­thing up that has been com­fort­able for me, as a sign that we’re se­ri­ous about this.”

A re­tired priest’s ad­mis­sion in 2018 that he had mo­lested likely dozens of boys in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s led to the un­rav­el­ing of decades of al­leged clergy abuses in the Buf­falo Dio­cese kept hid­den for decades.

There are now ac­cu­sa­tions of abuse against more than 100 priests who served in the dio­cese, some of whom were still in ac­tive min­istry and are now sus­pended; mul­ti­ple calls for Malone to re­sign; a civil in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the state At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice; and a fed­eral probe in­clud­ing a sub­poena of dio­cese records and FBI agents in­ter­view­ing vic­tims of abuse.

Gov. An­drew M. Cuomo in Fe­bru­ary signed into law the Child Vic­tims Act, which will give child­hood sex abuse vic­tims a one-year look back win­dow to file law­suits against their abusers or the or­ga­ni­za­tions that em­ployed their abusers – even if the al­leged abuse dates back decades.

The new law po­ten­tially could re­sult in costly law­suits against the Buf­falo Dio­cese, in ad­di­tion to com­pen­sa­tion pay­ments to vic­tims.

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