BUFFALO (AP) — Three priests — including one who long served in Olean — have been placed on leave in response to claims in a lawsuit filed last month that they sexually abused a boy in the 1990s, the Diocese of Buffalo announced over the weekend.
Bishop Michael Fisher said Saturday the priests all “deny ever committing any acts of abuse” but were placed on leave pending an investigation.
The diocese also notified the Erie County District Attorney’s Office of the claims, which emerged in a lawsuit last month.
Rev. Gregory Dobson, the former rector of Olean’s Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, who is retired but continues to assist in various parishes of the diocese, was one of the priests placed on administrative leave.
The Revs. Adolph Kowalczyk, pastor of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Orchard Park, and Mieczyslaw “Matt” Nycz, pastor of SS. Peter and Paul in Williamsville were also placed on leave.
“Bishop Fisher wishes to emphasize that the decision to place the priests on administrative leave at this time is in no way intended to indicate their guilt or any determination about the truth or falsity of the complaint,” the diocese said in a statement.
The diocese also reported the matter to an independent review board, which will be responsible for appointing an independent investigator.
The lawsuit was filed by an Erie County man who had been a student at Sacred Heart School at the time of the alleged abuse, the Buffalo News reported.
The man claims the priests “coerced him to engage in sexual contact with other underage female students,” which the priests filmed.
The alleged abuse occurred on school grounds and in “the confessional rooms,” according to the lawsuit.
Dobson left St. Mary’s on July 31, 2018, after 22 years. He was a parochial vicar in Orchard Park when the bishop at the time asked him to take over St. Mary’s in early 1997.