Ledger of Abuse: A Look at Buffalo Priests Accused of Child Abuse

The Catholic Church has had an issue with some priests sexually abusing people, with the church often playing a shell game of moving accused priests to other areas. Buffalo, New York has seen over 20 priests accused of inappropriate sexual conduct come through their diocese.

While the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is debating on releasing the names of priests with complaints lodged against them who have come through the city, a number of the names are easily found by the public.

Recent Accusations Dig up Old Cases

In February, Michael Whalen came forward with his story of being sexually abused by Norbert Orsolits, a former Catholic priest in Buffalo. With his accusation, a number of other people came forward with their own stories about Orsolits’ abuse.

In an interview with The Buffalo News, Orsolits didn’t remember Whalen, but he did casually discuss the fact that he had sexual contact with a number teenage boys during his time as a priest in Buffalo. He blamed booze and even insinuated that some of the boys were at fault.

Orsolits served as a priest in Buffalo during the ’70s all the way up to 2003. Somewhere between 1980 and 1985, he was sent for treatment to his sexual issues at the Southdown Institute located north of Toronto, Canada.

Orsolits claims that after his treatment, he did not have any sexual contact with teenage boys. He was relieved of his duties as a priest in 2003. But Orsolits isn’t the only priest who worked in Buffalo that has accusations leveled against them.

Naming Names

As a result of the accusations made against Orsolits, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo began considering releasing the names of other priests who passed through their churches. Due to public records, there are a number of former Buffalo priests who can be named, over 20 of them in fact. Former Buffalo priests accused of sexual misconduct include:

John R. Aurelio

In 1993, Aurelio told police in Niagara County that he abused a number of young boys in a house that he lived in alongside Rev. Bernard M. Mach. Aurelio indicated that Mach also took part in the abuse, and that it occurred at least 15 years prior to his confession.

Benedict P. Barszcz

The assistant pastor of Lewiston’s St. Peter’s Church was charged with publicly exposing himself to two teenage girls. He was since “no longer allowed to publicly celebrate Mass or the sacraments.”

David Bialkowski

In 2011, Bialkowski, a priest at St. John Gualbert in Cheektowaga, was accused of inappropriately touching an altar server. After the initial accusation, two more accusers came forward and Bialkowski was placed on administrative leave.

Robert Biesinger

Biesinger was sued in 1995 for sexually assaulting a young girl in August of 1974. He resigned from his Cheektowaga parish in 1994. The lawsuit was settled by the church in 1996.

Secondo Casarotto

Casarotto was accused of groping a 37-year-old woman in 2009. The diocese reached a settlement with the woman in 2012, and he was removed as a priest.

Charles Cassetta

A 2003 lawsuit accused Cassetta of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl in 1971, and again in 1972, when he worked in Florida. Cassetta served the church in Buffalo before Florida. He left the priesthood in 1975.

James H. Cotter

While none of Cotter’s accusations stem from his time in Buffalo, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo was accused of transferring him to San Diego where he was accused of sexually abusing a seven-year-old boy in the late ’80s.

Joseph Friel

A 1994 lawsuit by a man who lived in the Town of Boston (in western New York) accused Friel of molesting him in the late ’60s.

Linus Hennessy

Tino Flores of Buffalo accused Hennessy, a Franciscan friar and teacher, of abusing him for approximately five years starting in the ’70s, when Flores was just 10 years old. The complaint was filed in 2015, Hennessy died in 1983.

Stanley Idziak

Two brothers accused Idziak of sexually abusing them in the ’70s. The 1988 complaint stated that Idziak began the abuse at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church in North Tonawanda, and followed the two boys to Atlanta when he transferred to the family’s new parish after they moved.

Fred D. Ingalls

An administrator at both St. Joseph in Varysburg and St. Cecilia in Sheldon, Ingalls was arrested and pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in June 2004. Ingalls was sentenced to three years and one month in prison.

Gerald Jasinski

The Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jasinski on a number of charges including felony charges of first-degree sodomy and first-degree sexual abuse, as well as a charge of unlawfully dealing with a child. The boys, in this case, were alleged to be 15 and 18.

Timothy Kelley

He was accused of abusing a former altar boy. The abuse allegedly occurred in 1983, at a school in the Dunkirk area.

Bernard M. Mach

Mach was accused of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy. According to the lawsuit filed in 1993, the abuse took place in 1991 and the lawsuit was settled for $2.0 million.

Loville N. Martlock

In April 1994, Martlock was accused of abusing a boy from 1974 to 1978. After the accusations, Marlock left on “medical leave.”

Robert J. Smith

Smith attended, and was expelled from, a Buffalo-area seminary in 1959. He was later sued in two separate lawsuits by two separate alter boys for sexual abuse in 1993 and 1994 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

James A. Spielman

A complaint was filed against Spielman in 1993, alleging abuse during the ’70s. The church reached a settlement and Spielman resigned from the priesthood.

Bernard Splawski

In 1986, an 18-year-old Bishop Timon High School student accused Splawski of fondling him. In 2013, he resigned as a pastor, following complaints from the student’s family.

Charles M. Werth

In 1994, Werth was charged with sexual abuse and pleaded guilty to exposure due to an incident at Ellicott Creek Park. There was a second similar issue in 2004 (by which time, Werth retired from the priesthood). The Buffalo diocese claimed that no young people were involved in the allegations.

William F. White

In 1993, White was accused of sexual abuse. Shortly after, in February 1993, White was placed on leave by the church.

Robert Wood

While serving as a pastor at St. Joseph in Varysburg, Wood was accused of sexually abusing a minor from an incident that occurred 16 years earlier. Wood was removed as pastor shortly after the allegations surfaced.

Tip of the Iceberg

While that may seem like a lot of names, it may just be the tip of the iceberg. As it can be seen in many of the stories above, the Catholic church had a tendency to move a “troubled” priest to another part of the state, or even another part of the country when accusations appeared.

With the diocese of Buffalo considering to release the names of priests who had complaints of sexual misconduct filed against them, do not be surprised if more names are added to this list.