WBEN Photo/Brendan Keany

Former Assistant to Bishop Malone, Siobhan O'Connor, Speaks Out

"I tried to do what I could from the inside, and I couldn't"

October 30, 2018 - 3:30 pm
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BUFFALO (WBEN-Brendan Keany) - There is now even more pressure on Bishop Richard Malone and the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo after a former executive assistant to Malone spoke with "60 Minutes," detailing the bishop's inaction regarding the widespread reports of clergy sexual abuse.

Siobhan O'Connor spoke to local media today following her national appearance on Sunday, and she says that going to the media was the only way to see tangible change.

"I tried to do what I could from the inside, and I couldn't," said O'Connor. "I knew that this was the way that action would be taken. So, going to that national platform, I thought was important, because I believe that our diocese is not alone in this crisis."

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian represents 39 local victims of alleged sexual abuse, and with the amount of experience he has in similar cases, he says the Diocese of Buffalo's supposed corruption is common, even the norm.

"What you're seeing in the Diocese of Buffalo, with the evidence and the documents, is typical in every diocese and archdiocese in the country, in the world," said Garabedian. "I've been handling thousands of clergy sexual abuse cases for decades, I've looked through tens upon thousands of documents, my associates have - this is standard. Hide the documents, the church will portray itself as the victim, maintain the secrecy, and let the coverup continue."

The best way to resolve the issue according to advocates and former victims is through a complete overhaul of the leadership hierarchy in the Buffalo Diocese, which starts at the top.

"We need a complete change in leadership here," said O'Connor. "I've seen it from the inside, and nothing is going to change of their own doing, of their own volition. I really do hope that Pope Francis can step in. If they won't step down, he needs to step in because it's just not going to get better."

Several advocates stood with O'Connor as she faces the local media, including James Faluszczak who's a former priest and alleged victim of clergy abuse. Faluszczak had nothing but high praise for the work O'Connor has done in trying to expose the Buffalo Diocese in their mishandling of abuse claims and subsequent coverup.

"The only thing that I would say this morning is the gratitude that I have for Siobhan O'Connor," he said. "What a courageous individual she is, and I never thought that I would have the honor of standing with her today. Her voice has given voice to the voiceless."

Garabedian echoed Faluszczak's sentiments, and he says O'Connor's actions may serve as an inspiration for other people to stand up.

"Because of a brave person like this, Siobhan is now going to encourage other whistleblowers throughout the world to release documents," said Garabedian. "She's going to encourage other whistleblowers to look at their own consciences and determine whether they should do the right thing. In turn, she's going to help children be safe."

In her fight for justice, there is fear of aggressive pushback. However, Garabedian deflected that idea and pointed at leaders within the Catholic Church as the individuals who should most fear repercussions of this case.

"Bishop Malone should be out here talking today. Pope Francis should be out here talking today," he said. "They're the ones who have been practicing the coverup. They're the ones who have been allowing innocent children to be sexually abused. They're the ones who should be out here today. They're the ones who should fear criminal repercussions, not this brave woman."

You can listen to the entire news conference below:

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