BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Reacting to a whistleblower’s calls for Bishop Richard Malone to resign over his response to clergy sexual misconduct, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo called her statements “embarrassingly contradictory” and released glowing emails about Malone that she sent while she was an employee.
Malone was “stunned and dismayed” by statements made by his former executive assistant, Siobhan O’Connor, at a news conference Tuesday, the diocese said in a statement just before midnight. It said O’Connor’s critical comments contradict what she told Malone when she worked for him and after she left.
“In truly countless ways you have inspired and edified me. I am the better for having known and worked with you,” O’Connor wrote Aug. 21, shortly before leaving her job, the diocese said. The next day, WKBW-TV aired a damning story about Malone based on classified material secretly provided by O’Connor.
On Wednesday, she called the bishop’s response “needless deflection.”
“The documents under discussion should not be my emails to Bishop Malone,” O’Connor said in a statement through her Boston attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, who represents victims of clergy abuse.
Malone has resisted widespread calls to step down amid reports that he allowed an accused priest to continue to minister and excluded dozens of others from a list released publicly this year of problematic priests. O’Connor copied and leaked confidential files that included emails between Malone and diocesan attorneys and a 2015 letter of recommendation from Malone for a previously suspended priest who was seeking appointment as a cruise ship chaplain.
“Her prior, written communications to the Bishop demonstrate her complete admiration for the Bishop and his efforts to lead the Diocese,” the diocese’s statement read. “Her comments now are plainly and embarrassingly contradictory.”
Malone has said he made mistakes with cases involving adult victims but has never knowingly left a priest accused of child abuse in ministry.
O’Connor was not identified in initial news reports but revealed her identity on Sunday’s broadcast of CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
She said Tuesday that she has provided material to the FBI as part of an ongoing federal investigation.
The diocese and others in New York also are under scrutiny by the state attorney general. New York is one of several states to announce investigations following an explosive grand jury report in August documented decades of abuse by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania.