The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has substantiated an allegation of child sexual abuse against a suspended Ellicottville priest. The diocese announced the Rev. Ronald Mierzwa, pastor of Holy Name of Mary Church in Ellicottville, will remain on leave while the results of its investigation are reviewed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican in Rome, which will make the final determination.
According to the diocese, Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone determined the claim against Mierzwa was credible after considering the advice of the Independent Diocesan Review Board, which met on Wednesday and reviewed the reports of Scott F. Riordan and Steven L. Halter.
The Rev. Mierzwa, who was ordained in 1976 and had been pastor of Holy Name of Mary since 1994, was placed on administrative leave in September for what the diocese then called an allegation of abuse. While the diocese has not provided any details on the child sex abuse allegation, Meirzwa’s suspension came just two weeks after WKBW-TV reported on Sept. 12 that a woman accused him for more than 15 years ago of making her sons “parade around in their underwear.”
WKBW did not name Mierzwa in that original report about the allegation, but the news station reports Mierzwa turned himself in to Malone a few days later, leading to his suspension. However, the diocese appears to have known about the allegation against Mierzwa since 2002.
The determination is just the latest in the diocese’s clergy sex abuse scandal that has seen the diocese identify 80 priests as being credibly accused of child sex abuse.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Buffalo subpoenaed the diocese in October for a probe focused on the alleged trafficking of minors across state lines, 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.
This recent revelation highlights the importance of laws such as the Child Victims Act in New York, which has extended the statute of limitations for civil and criminal cases involving the sexual abuse of minors. As a result of the strict and short statute of limitations, sexual predators have been able to avoid prosecution and are instead allowed to hide in plain sight. The Child Victims Act finally gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse a voice to speak out, expose predators and hold the entities who have protected them responsible.
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse in New York, you may have a claim for civil damages even if the abuse occurred decades ago. Please contact Herman Law today to determine if our firm can help you get long-overdue justice.