Brendan Keany

Dozens of Lawsuits Against Buffalo Diocese

"We're all a part of a club that none of us want to be a part of."

August 14, 2019 - 4:00 am
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BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - The one-year lookback window under the Child Victims Act is now officially open, and we're already learning of hundreds of lawsuits filed against churches, schools and various other organizations throughout New York State.

On Tuesday, attorney Steve Boyd, who represents numerous victims of child sex abuse, announced that his law firm is filing 83 lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, and 30 against the Rochester Diocese on Wednesday.

"It's a big day - important day," said Boyd. "But, it's a day that comes to us because of a lot of suffering."

On this day, it's really all about the abuse victims and survivors who were brave enough the share their stories so that justice may yet be served.

Here's what they had to say:

Christopher Szuflita - "My journey started a long time ago with Steve Boyd in 1994, and it was because Bishop Head came out and called us all faceless, nameless people. That day it snapped, and I had to come forward and tell my story to try to protect other children from going through this, and I'm really grateful to have this opportunity...Just because we're all standing here together, you don't have a clue what we all went through, not just the abuse, but the destruction that we might have caused to our families."

Kevin Koscielniak - We have a story to tell, and what was done to us was so wrong. I live by one thing, and when I came out three years ago and finally told my wife, and nobody ever knew; I buried it for 40 years. My parents, who are no longer here, never knew at all; my friends didn't know. We learned to cope with what happened to us fool the world. We became master manipulators and liars, and nobody ever knew what was going on because we're good at saying, 'Yeah, we're okay. I don't talk much; I'm just quiet.' But after bearing it and coming forward now and having an understanding...you don't understand the symptoms that we go through. the abuse was just one small part of it, and I'm not diminishing it at all, but it's what happens to us afterwards. The ancillary damage that is done to our family, friends, coworkers, everyone that's out there, the connections that we never made because we don't know how to connect with people; we don't want relationships; we want to live in isolation...we've missed opportunities...If you ask yourself what is the right thing to do, it isn't about being quiet; it's not about covering up and protecting. You can't answer that question unless you do the right thing, and come forward and make a change. That's what we're all going to be doing."

Gary Astridge - "We're all a part of a club that none of us want to be a part of, and unfortunately, we are. I know for myself, I have always felt like, and I still do, felt like a misfit. I know for me, at one point, I could feel that my soul went dark, and it's been that way my whole life. I find myself, like Kevin said, just kind of fake smiles, but there's no joy. I've had a lot of good things happen to me in my life, and I should be very, very happy, and I'm not. I'm dead inside, and I know that a lot of these people feel the same way. I would just urge those who had something happen to them...you've got a year to come forward."

Michael Whalen - "I didn't realize that stepping forward last year would cause all of this. This broke open, and it's huge, and I'm thankful that I was able to have the courage to come forward and do this to help so many people, so many survivors - so many voices that haven't been heard and so many out there that still haven't been heard."

Listen to the entire press conference below:

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