ST. BONAVENTURE — A longtime and now-deceased St. Bonaventure University friar had a child sexual abuse allegation against him stemming out of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Rev. Maurice Scheier, who worked at St. Bonaventure for nearly 60 years prior to his death in 1991, was among the 36 additional priests identified Monday by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo as being credibly accused of child sex abuse.
While Buffalo Diocese did not specify the allegations, a claim against Scheier was detailed in a 2004 Los Angeles Archdiocese report on clergy sex abuse.
The Los Angeles Archdiocese has since removed the names of accused priests from the online version of this report, citing the list as “outdated.” But both Jeff Anderson & Associates, a Minnesota law firm that represents clergy sex abuse victims, and BishopAccountability.org, which tracks clergy sex abuse, report on their websites that the 2004 report previously stated one person accused Scheier of abuse and the alleged abuse occurred in 1948.
A St. Bonaventure official told the Olean Times Herald Thursday the claim against Scheier was not made until 2004 — 13 years after Scheier’s death. The official said the university was still gathering information, but planned to release a full statement today on Scheier’s inclusion in the Los Angeles report.
In a previous statement Tuesday, St. Bonaventure President Dr. Dennis DePerro said Monday’s announcement was the first time university officials learned of accusations against Scheier. DePerro also said that university records do not indicate Scheier was ever accused of abuse while employed at St. Bonaventure.
Scheier’s connection with the Los Angeles Archdiocese is unclear. Catholic registry records do not indicate Scheier ever served in Los Angeles.
In 1948, during the time of alleged abuse, Scheier was assigned to the St. Bonaventure Monastery and was 20 years into a 58-year career at the university.
Scheier joined the St. Bonaventure faculty as a Greek and mathematics instructor in 1928, and eventually held the posts of head of the mathematics department, dean of science, vicar and guardian of the friary, according to Times Herald archives.
Scheier also served as pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Knapp Creek from 1961 until it was closed by the Buffalo Diocese in 1988.
Scheier is not the only ex-St. Bonaventure friar accused of abuse. The Rev. Gary Ketcham was named in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report about clergy sex abuse. Ketcham, who was part of St. Bonaventure’s faculty from 1977 to 1984, was later convicted in 1990 of molesting two boys while visiting friends in Alabama, according to the grand jury report.
The Buffalo Diocese has been engulfed in controversy as numerous victims have come forward over the last year with claims priests sexually abused them as children.
The controversy began after a February admission by a former Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels priest and Archbishop Walsh High School teacher. The Rev. Norbert Orsolits admitted to The Buffalo News that he sexually abused “probably dozens” of teenage boys during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The Buffalo Diocese then released the names of 42 accused priests in March. The naming of 36 priests Monday brings the Buffalo Diocese’s list of credibly-accused priests to 78. The Buffalo Diocese said these lists do not include priests who had a single accusation made against them after their deaths.
In August, WKBW-TV reported that Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone allowed a priest to continue serving after a Catholic elementary school teacher reported the priest was grooming a child for a sexual relationship. The news station also reported Malone allowed another priest to serve after the priest was accused of unwanted sexual advances on two adult men.
WKBW-TV was given leaked diocesan documents by Malone’s former assistant, Siobhan O’Connor. The reporting was the subject of a recent episode of CBS “60 Minutes.”
Many, including diocesan insiders, have called for Malone to resign, but he has refused.
During Monday’s announcement, Malone defended himself, saying that he never knowingly allowed a priest accused of child sexual abuse to remain in ministry.
Authorities are looking into the Buffalo Diocese. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo has subpoenaed the diocese for a probe focused on the alleged trafficking of minors across state lines for the purpose of sex abuse, while the New York State Attorney General’s Office is leading a statewide investigation into clergy abuse, with a particular focus on the Buffalo Diocese.
(Contact reporter Tom Dinki at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki)