Sexual Abuse Attorneys Respond to Buffalo Diocese’s Dangerous Decision to Reinstate Fr. Dennis Riter
“Unfortunately, the Bishop has chosen to support a priest accused of abusing multiple children.” – Attorney Mike Reck
(Buffalo, NY) – The Diocese of Buffalo made a startling and dangerous decision yesterday when it reinstated Fr. Dennis G. Riter who is accused of sexually abusing multiple children.
The survivor who reported Fr. Riter says that he is “morally compelled to not walk away,” said Mike Reck, an attorney for the survivor, who added that the diocese needs to acknowledge that Riter is a public safety threat and reverse its decision immediately.
“As long as the Diocese of Buffalo continues to expose Fr. Riter to children, this survivor will continue to seek accountability and safety,” Reck said. “The actions of the Diocese of Buffalo yesterday reached a new level of callousness and carelessness. Our firm represents the brave survivor who reported Fr. Riter’s abuse months ago. This survivor, Matt Golden, did so with the sole motivation of protecting other children from the trauma he suffered.”
Riter, the pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Dunkirk, NY, is accused of sexually abusing at least three boys while he was a priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Buffalo in the 1990s. The diocese put Riter on administrative leave pending a diocesan investigation in March after receiving Mr. Golden’s report. Mr. Golden filed a claim with the Diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program and also reported to law enforcement. However, the rules of the compensation plan appear not to provide for any financial compensation for him and the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution has expired.
“So the ability to do the right thing and impose the vital accountability and justice rests solely with Bishop Malone,” Reck said. “Unfortunately, the Bishop has chosen to support a priest accused of abusing multiple children.”
No meaningful information has been provided by the Diocese explaining why Fr. Riter has been returned to ministry.
Mr. Golden’s report months ago led to the discovery of at least two other alleged victims of Fr. Riter. Additionally, a letter detailing the abuse of one boy, purportedly sent by a seminarian in the diocese at the time, was uncovered by press investigations. Years ago, well before the current scandal erupted publicly in the Diocese of Buffalo, Mr. Golden disclosed his abuse to friends and family. All of this information was made available to the Diocese and its investigator.
“Throughout the country we have seen indifference like this by Church officials lead to continued trauma and suffering,” said Jeff Anderson, attorney for Mr. Golden along with Reck. “The Diocese could and should do better. The time has come for the Diocese of Buffalo to do the right thing, to protect children and provide healing support for brave survivors like Matt and the other survivors of Fr. Riter.”