Buffalo Diocese Paid $1.5 Million to Settle Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit

Mar. 18, 2018

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo quietly paid $1.5 million in 2016 to a man who alleged a priest sexually abused him when he was a teenager more than three decades ago.

It was the diocese’s second financial settlement of a lawsuit alleging abuse by James A. Spielman, a former diocesan priest who served in at least six Western New York parishes and taught religion at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean.

The settlement is the largest that has come to light so far in the Buffalo diocese for a clergy sex abuse case.

The massive settlement added to questions about whether diocesan officials have disclosed the full extent of clergy sex abuse in Western New York.
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Victims’ Advocate to Buffalo Diocese on Priest Sex Abuse: ‘Secrecy Must End’

Mar. 18, 2018
Robert Hoatson, right,  from Road to Recovery Inc., and James Faluszczak protest the bishop and the diocese to release names of sexually abusive priests on Sunday, March 18, 2018. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

A nationally known recovery group for sexual abuse victims increased the pressure Sunday on the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to release the names of all clergy involved in the growing number of recently revealed sexual abuse cases in Western New York.

“Bishop Richard J. Malone told the media recently that he inherited a policy of secrecy regarding the names of sexually abusive clergy in the Diocese of Buffalo, yet he has done nothing to change that policy for five-and-a-half years,” said Robert M. Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery Inc., a nonsectarian organization that works with survivors of sexual abuse.

“In the interest of full transparency, validation and the safety of children, Bishop Malone must release the names of sexually abusive clergymen in the Diocese of Buffalo and the documents surrounding each and every case,” said Hoatson. “The secrecy must end.”

Malone is seriously considering releasing the names of the priests publicly accused of sexual misconduct in the Buffalo Diocese, said George Richert, communications director for the diocese.
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Did Jim Carrey Paint Sarah Huckabee Sanders And Call Her a ‘Monstrous’ Christian?

Mar. 18, 2018

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Many Local Governments Get Poor Grades For Transparency

A new report from a local watchdog group faults many local governments for doing a poor job of relaying basic information to the public.

The Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government has released its annual report card that grades government websites based on what public information they upload. The coalition consists of citizens who advocate a more open and transparent government.

This year, six out of 16 local governments received a passing score, up from only two last year. The report provides an explanation of why each government received its grade, highlighting categories in which they succeeded and failed.

The assessment took into account factors such as making budgets and meeting agendas available on the web and providing access to videos of public sessions. Three independent volunteers graded the websites based on ten categories. Wheatfield, Amherst and the Town of Tonawanda received the highest scores, earning 80, 79 and 72 respectively. By comparison, Buffalo received 63, the same failing score it was assigned last year.

Coalition President Paul Wolf said that although he’s encouraged by the increase, he believes there is work to be done.

“We did an update this year and said ‘geez have any of these local governments made changes’ and things have gotten a little bit better,” Wolf said. “So this year, 63% failed, which is better than 90, but certainly we have a long ways to go to making government more open and transparent.”

Wolf’s organization also rated 14 local government authorities, 13 of which failed the coalition’s grading criteria. Scores were calculated using a similar scale, highlighting eight categories which totaled 100 points. The only passing authority was the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, earning a 75.

Wolf is convinced his group is performing an important mission

“I don’t think the criteria is harsh, no one is rely monitoring these types of things,” Wolf said. “There’s no government agencies that makes sure they’re complying with the Open Meetings laws or Freedom of Information Act, just groups like ours as a volunteer act to evaluate these things.”

Wolf said he believes many of the governments don’t take the report card seriously.

“Sadly again, most brush it off,” Wolf said. “I have had some communication with some local governments that after they received our report last year they thanked us for the information and said they were going to try to do better. [For] some of them, given that the scores have improved this year, some of them have made efforts to do better. But for the most part, there wasn’t a positive response.”

Wolf hopes for more open communication between the coalition, local governments and authorities in the coming years. He said it’s important for citizens to hold local officials accountable and insist that information be accessible.

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St. Francis of Assisi Rummage Sale

Mar. 17, 2018

Mark your calendar!

St. Francis of Assisi Parish is having a Rummage Sale of gently used items Saturday, April 28 in the School Hall, 70 Adam Street, Tonawanda.  Early birds will be admitted at 8:00 AM for $3.00, with regular admission of $1.00 beginning at 9:00.  Refreshments will be available.  The sale ends at 1 PM; all proceeds will benefit St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Early Childhood Center.  All are welcome.

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AP Source: McCabe Turns Over To Mueller Memos About Trump

Donald Trump

President of the United States
 Donald Trump
 ERIC TUCKER Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Andrew McCabe, the onetime FBI deputy director long scorned by President Donald Trump and just fired by the attorney general, has turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators personal memos describing interactions with the president that are similar to the notes compiled by dismissed FBI chief James Comey, The Associated Press has learned.

Mueller’s team of investigators has been examining Trump campaign ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice.

McCabe’s memos include details of his own interactions with the president. They also recount different conversations he had with Comey, who kept notes on meetings with Trump that unnerved him, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to discuss the notes publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Though the precise contents are unknown, the memos possibly could help substantiate McCabe’s assertion that he was unfairly maligned by a White House he says had declared “war” on the FBI and Mueller’s investigation. They almost certainly contain, as Comey’s memos did, previously undisclosed details about encounters between the Trump administration and FBI that could be of interest to Mueller.

The disclosure Saturday came hours after Trump called McCabe’s firing by Attorney General Jeff Sessions “a great day for Democracy” and asserted without elaboration that McCabe knew “all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels off the FBI!” In the last year, Trump has repeatedly condemned as emblematic of an FBI that he insists is biased against his administration.

That sent former CIA Director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic, into a Twitter tizzy: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

Sessions said he acted on the recommendation of FBI disciplinary officials who said McCabe had not been candid with a watchdog office investigation. McCabe was fired two days before his retirement date on Sunday. The dismissal likely jeopardizes his ability to collect his full pension benefits and, more broadly, could add to the turmoil that has enveloped the FBI since Comey’s firing and as the bureau moves ahead with an investigation the White House has dismissed as a hoax.

An upcoming inspector general’s report is expected to conclude that McCabe, who spent more than 20 years with the FBI, had authorized the release of information to the media and was not forthcoming with the watchdog office as it examined the bureau’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. McCabe has vigorously disputed the allegations and said his credibility had been attacked as “part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally” but also the FBI and law enforcement.

“It is part of this administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day,” he added. “Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel’s work.”

The firing set off dueling tweets between Trump, who called the termination a “great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI,” and Comey, the director he fired 10 months ago.

Trump called Comey “sanctimonious” and said Comey made McCabe “look like a choirboy.” Comey, referencing his highly anticipated book that comes out next month, responded with his own tweet: “Mr. President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not.”

Also Saturday, Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, cited the “brilliant and courageous example” by Sessions and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility and said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should “bring an end” to the Russia investigation “manufactured” by Comey.

Dowd told the AP that he neither was calling on Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s inquiry, to fire the special counsel immediately nor had discussed with Rosenstein the idea of dismissing Mueller or ending the probe.

Mueller is investigating whether Trump’s actions, including Comey’s ouster, constitute obstruction of justice. McCabe could be an important witness, and his memos could be used by investigators as they look into whether Trump sought to thwart the FBI probe. Comey’s own memos, including one in which he says Trump encouraged him to end an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, have been provided to Mueller and are part of his investigation.

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Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

Mar. 17, 2018
May the Road Rise to meet You

Irish Blessings image

May the roads rise to meet you.
May the wind be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rain fall soft upon your fields
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow.
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

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On St. Joseph’s Day; Pass the Sfingi and Honey Balls

Mar. 17, 2018

To Buffalo’s Sicilian population, St. Joseph’s Day looms large.

For the rest of us, it is something of a mystery.

It is sandwiched between two gigantic Western New York party days, St. Patrick’s Day and Dyngus Day, falling on March 19 in 2018. These noisier occasions tend to obscure it. You do not find store aisles devoted to St. Joseph’s Day, as you do for St. Patrick’s Day. Though there is a massive St. Patrick’s Day/St. Joseph’s Day/Dyngus Day celebration, the holiday in the middle is in a class by itself.

It is celebrated wherever Sicilians are, said Peter LoJacono, the president of the Buffalo Federation of Italian-American Societies.

The roots of St. Joseph’s Day, adding to its exotic nature, are distant and medieval. St. Joseph saved Sicily from famine in the Middle Ages, and Sicilians have been thanking him ever since, by holding St. Joseph’s Tables – elaborate feasts.

A St. Joseph’s Day feast is always meatless. There were two reasons for that: One was that the day invariably falls during Lent, and rules used to be far stricter than they are now.

The other reason was less meaty, but more practical.

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Former Hippies Put in Horrible Position of Rooting for F.B.I.

Mar. 17, 2018

Satire from The Borowitz Report

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Former hippies across the United States have been put in the unbearable position of rooting for the F.B.I., hippies have confirmed.

From Vermont to California, erstwhile hippies bemoaned a nightmare scenario that has forced them to side with a law-enforcement agency they have despised since the Summer of Love.

“I always dreamed I’d spend my retirement surrounded by my grandchildren, telling them that the F.B.I. were fascist pigs,” Carol Foyler, a former hippie who lives in Santa Cruz, said. “That dream has been shot to hell.”

Her husband, Mick, nodded his head in sad agreement. “We were so happy when pot was legalized in California,” he said. “But the fact that we’re now on the same side as the F.B.I. has ruined even that.”

Now in their seventies, the Foylers are spending their days doing things they never dreamed possible when they traipsed through the mud at Woodstock: going door to door in Santa Cruz, asking other former freaks to sign a pro-F.B.I. petition.

“Donald Trump has wrecked America’s standing around the world, spread misogyny and bigotry, ravaged the environment, and endorsed a child molester,” Carol said. “But making people like us support the F.B.I. is the most unforgivable thing he’s done.”

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Mar. 17, 2018

In his first substantial interview in a decade and his first extensively about football since the ’90s, Simpson spoke to The Buffalo News earlier this week. He talks about his time in prison, his life since his release, football, CTE and more.

LAS VEGAS — The dishwasher was chirping, and he couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. The thermostat was a mystery. A freshly discovered leak dripped from a large stain in the garage ceiling, and he couldn’t locate the cause.

He hunched as he moved around the house, smoothly but with a shuffle more than a glide. Reading glasses perched on his salt-and-pepper head. He wore a black button-up sweater over a white golf shirt, black slacks, black Nike sneakers.

He looked like Mr. Rogers, not the running back who once scored 23 touchdowns in a season, not one of the most infamous men on the planet.

But that baritone voice, that incandescent smile. Yes, this was O.J. Simpson.

And he was ready to sit and talk.
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