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tv   Nightline  ABC  December 5, 2019 12:37am-1:07am PST

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this is "nightline." tonight, sins of the fathers, a catholic bishop under fire. >> do you feel that you've been a good shepherd? >> accused of not doing enough to clean up the decades-old sexual abuse scandal in buffalo. the unlikely whistle-blower vowing to hold him accountable. and the priest accused of abuse still presiding over blessed bb sack ra sack ram. >> he took a lie detector test. >> fall from grace will be right back.
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good evening. thanks for joining us. i'm eva pilgrim. the bishop of buffalo defiant, now stepping down over his handling of a sexual abuse crisis that went all the way to
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the vatican. how did he get to this point, and what's next for the church? here's david wright. >> i told my wife i want to cry today. >> reporter: the moral authority of the catholic church has been ravaged by too many stories like matt goldman. >> i definitely was assaulted and molested by father ryder, 100%. >> reporter: matt was an altar boy in buffalo back in the '90s. he says father dennis ryder started asking him to stay late after mass to help count the collection. >> you count like quarters, dimes, you know, and he'd be, you know, counting, you know, the bigger monetary bills or checks that would come in. and that would be in rectory. then we'd play nintendo. >> reporter: playing video games back in the rectory. >> he would always turn the heat up on higher.
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and then say hey, would you want to get more comfortable. you know, take your shirt off. before i know it, i don't have any clothes on and he doesn't have any clothes on. >> reporter: did he touch you? >> yeah, we touched each other. both of us. you know, i would touch his genitalia, he would touch mine. >> reporter: matt says it happened again and again and again. >> well over 20 times, it happened over the course of three years before i finally said i'm not doing this anymore. >> reporter: pope francis has called for a total war against the abuse of minors, saying that the church needs to do a much better job of presentiotecting from what he calls rafennous wolves. >> reporter: that's bishop mallone speaking in his only national tv interview. he told us he'd made a good faith effort to address the sexual abuse scandal, but some of his decisions came under serious fire, including his decision to restore father rye
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dir to t ryeder to the ministry. he was celebrating first communion, are you complete lly comfortable with that? >> i am. our review board is independent. >> reporter: father ryder denies the allegations, and malone notes that a church investigation cleared him. >> father dennis ryder is alleged to have molested not one, not two, but three minors. you suspended him, put him back in the ministry earlier this year. why? >> reporter: charlie speck of wkbw has been holding malone's feet to the fire. >> i've been dealing with so many of these cases, charlie, that the details in my weary brain, seriously, get mixed up. >> who runs this diocese? is it you or terry lawler? >> it is i.
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>> reporter: he got help from his once-devoted personal assistant, shavaughn o'connor. she was so disturbed by malone's andli a handling of the issue that she became sick in her job. >> i had to bring the truth to light. >> reporter: she quit, but not before photocopies hundreds of pages of the bishop's files, detailing sexual abuse allegations in buffalo going back decades, including a binder the bishop kept in the closet with the vacuum cleaner. >> reporter: what was it? >> they were all pending litigation and past litigation that would have been provided when he first started as bishop. >> reporter: and you copied? >> i did. mm-hm. i felt that law enforcement, particularly, needed to have
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that information that i was worried that perhaps they would start to shred things once the stories came out. >> reporter: in her final days in the bishop's office, a scene straight out of the oscar movie spotlight. charlie followed her after she left work one day. >> we heard she was having doubts. >> reporter: he showed us the parking lot where he first approached her and could tell she was ready to talk. >> i'd been watching him for months before i met him. he wasn't letting up on this story. i knew if i was going to talk to someone in the media, it would be charlie. >> reporter: it didn't hurt that charlie is a former altar boy himself. >> in the name of the father and the son, the holy spirit. >> reporter: shavon says that's one reason she trusted him to take on the bishop. >> i just have never, ever doubted that he was the right person to work with, and that's been a blessing. >> i had a, what i think a wonderful trusting working relationship with shavon.
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and was i shocked when she took that particular approach? yes. >> reporter: i mean, she betrayed you, but she betrayed you for the truth, right? >> but to tell you the truth, and this is my recollection, there was never a time when she said, bishop, we need to sit down and really talk about this. >> reporter: did you ever confront the bishop? >> i did. twice in writing. he was always very eager to placate me, to tell me not to worry about it, it wasn't my concern, that wasn't my job, don't get involved. >> reporter: i have here an e-mail that she sent to you, outlining her disappointment and her concerns. >> yes, i recall this. >> reporter: have you everybody se seen that. >> i admit i didn't handle that properly. in the 20 years i have been a bishop, i have tried hard to be a good shepherd. i kind of inherited a
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decades-old, horrific problem of abuse. >> reporter: in all fairness, buffalo is not alone. this is a worldwide scandal. pope francis himself acknowledges that. and parish after parish, state after state there's a reckoning under way, prompted in part by the pennsylvania grand jury report, which revealed serious allegations of abuse. >> priests were raping little boys and girls. and the men of god who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all. for decades. >> reporter: the time pennsylvania released its report, buffalo was already in the midst of its own reckoning at bishop malone's direction. in march of 2018 he directed the diocese to disclose the name of dozens of priests credibly accused of abusing children. 42 names. >> we've added to that.
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that was the group at that time that my staff here who work on those things knew were for sure corroborated. >> reporter: we've since learned that as many as 100, maybe even more? >> yeah. >> reporter: were left off that list? >> that was a decision at the time, and this is something by the way we continue to evaluate over and over again. we're not finished with that list at this point. >> reporter: that original list of credibly accused priests did not include priests who belonged to religious orders like the jesuits or those who were deceased. and it left out several with multiple accusations of sexual impropriety. was this a coverup? >> no. it wasn't a coverup. >> reporter: was it damage control? >> i don't believe it was damage control. i no know that's been said ofte. every single case that has come in has gone into the diocese review board. >> reporter: the fact that so many names were not on that list
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were what inspired shavon to betr betray her list. >> there's no priest with a substantiated, what you call a credible allegation of abuse of a minor in ministry at this diocese. i can testify to that. >> reporter: not true, says matt goldman. he isn't the only accuser. there were others too. >> one of my friends, nick, he was also an altar boy, and he was also molested by father ryder. >> reporter: nick is now dead, but nick's mother said her son told her he'd been abused. and there was yet another complaint. there's a letter written by a seminarian that we have here. to your predecessor. back in 1992. >> i'm aware of that one. >> reporter: reporting impropriety that he says he witnessed. there may be as many as three
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victims, and yet, father ryder is still in active ministry. >> he is. >> reporter: why? >> because again, that whole case went to our review board. and you have to know that these members of the review board are all very respected members of the community. all with expertise, you know, in childhood sex trauma. all legal things. and the salient facts in the allegation did not line up. >> reporter: the investigator hired by the diocese to review the allegations told us i turned ov his report to the church leaders and outlined his findings. one day later, bishop malone reinstated ryder. did you speak with fifany of th victims? >> the victims never came to me. i'm sighi i'm seeing one this week. whenever they wish to meet with me, i will meet with them. >> that's a joke. i can sit here in the camera
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today and say i'm still waiting for your phone call. >> reporter: the report which concluded that the letter written by the seminarian was a fabrication, he said there were too many inconsistencies, including about the nature of the alleged abuse. the investigator accepted father ryder's denials, despite his admission that he had failed a polygraph test. he took a lie detector test. ocese. has a jobetectorest fail. >> reporter: a writer sai is a an inkrid louless allegation. his lawyer told us dredging up these long-discounted allegations on this late date serves only to once more unfairly harm father riter's
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reputation. and he gives children first communion. do you think the parents of the kids would be completely comfortable? >> i don't know. i'm comfortable because i know a thorough investigation was done by a competent professional. >> reporter: but after our "nightline" report aired there were more explosive revelations, including secret recordings of the bishop's own voice. >> we're in a true crisis situation. true crisis. and everyone in the office is convinced this could be end for me as bishop. >> reporter: turns out the bishop was right. stay with us. the good news? our protection is guaranteed. the bad news? the perfect photo is not. depend® fit-flex underwear offers your best comfort and protection guaranteed. because, perfect or not, life's better when you're in it. be there with depend®.
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shortly after our initial report aired, it was clear bishopaleaspl unpopular. nearly 90% of buffalo catholics said he should resign. but the bishop stuck to his guns. there are lots of members of this community who say you should resign. have you considered it? >> no. >> reporter: then there was bombshell after bombshell. first the state of new york opened a temporary window, setting asides statute of limitations for sexual abuse. they face now 200 new lawsuits, one from matt goldman. then a second whistle-blower came forward with audio of the bishop privately discussing another priest, this one accused of extorting and sexually harassing a seminarian. >> the simple version is we have
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victims, and we have a perpetrator, and he's done things that are clearly wrong, and i think he's a sick puppy. >> reporter: only later did he seek to remove that ministry. >> everyone in the office is convinced this could be the end for me as bishop, could force mow me to resign. >> reporter: the day after, he had a press conference. >> i have not been the recipient of one of those calls. >> reporter: again, he refused to step down, suggesting that the lack of action from rome constituted an endorsement of his leadership. >> they're not unaware of all the news around here. but so far, apparently, i'd like to think they are trusting, trusting in my good will and my intention and capacity, working with other people to lead us, to lead us forward.
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>> reporter: then, pope francis ordered a formal review of the diocese, reporting the bishop of brooklyn to investigators, after he submitted his confidential report to the vatican, all the new york state bishops traveled to rome for a group meeting with pope francis. malone still insisted he had no plans to leave. >> in a few words spoken privately to me, it was clear that the pope understands the disu difficul difficulty and distress we have been experiencing. he was very understanding and kind. >> reporter: that abruptly changed today with the news that malone had resigned effective immediately. >> i'm not here as a knight in shining armor. i'm not here as the fix-it man. i'm here to be as a spiritual father. >> reporter: the bishop of albany has taken over on an interim basis. >> i'm here to listen to you, walk with you and help you heal. >> reporter: he said the plan was in motion even before that
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vatican meeting. >> thanksgiving week i was made aware that it would happen, that bishop malone would retire and that an announcement would be made. >> reporter: separately, the fbi is conducting its own ongoing criminal investigation. which is why we posed this question to whistle-blower shavon o'connor. >> reporter: do you think bishop malone should go to jail? >> that's a hard question for me. because he wasn't aloin. >> reporter: would you be testifying against him? >> yes, i would. so in that regard, my testimony might result in him going to jail. again, it's hard, because i do know him personally, sadly. i think he does need to go to jail, but i would visit him. >> reporter: we played that exchange for bishop malone. >> sadly, i think he does need to go to jail. >> well. >> but i would visit him.
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>> that is a shocker to me. and disappointing and very distressing. that's all i can say. >> reporter: you understand the depth of her anger and disappointment? >> not entirely, not entirely. to say sheo jail, i find, i'm almost speechless, speechless to hear that. >> reporter: there are still plenty of unanswered questions. for now, even though malone is out, father riter is still an active pastor in buffalo. >> scars are going to remain, memories are there. anybody that's been a victim of abuse, that triggering moment can happen and never goes away. >> reporter: but today marked an important step forward, not to mention a vindication of charlie speck and shavon o'connor. >> people will learn that it's always worth it to preserve the truth and fight for the truth. >> when we work together to expose these documents and these
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e publ really does still that care about the truth. and it was a message that i think is really heartening for us. >> reporter: without her and his persistence, bishop malone might still be in charge in buffalo. i'm david wright for "nightline" in new york. and we'll be right back. sor. now, there's skyrizi. ♪ things are getting clearer, yeah i feel free ♪ ♪ to bare my skin ♪ yeah that's all me. ♪ nothing and me go hand in hand ♪ ♪ nothing on my skin ♪ that's my new plan. ♪ nothing is everything. keep your skin clearer with skyrizi. 3 out of 4 people achieved 90% clearer skin at 4 months. of those, nearly 9 out of 10 sustained it through 1 year. and skyrizi is 4 doses a year, after 2 starter doses. ♪ i see nothing in a different way ♪ ♪ and it's my moment so i just gotta say ♪ ♪ nothing is everything
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if you or someone you know might be a victim of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy or anyone else, can you call the survivors network at 1-877-7622-7432. and that's "nightline." our full episodes are always on hulu. our full episodes are always on hulu. thank you for watchin kerrygold has a taste so rich it can take you to ireland's lush, green pastures. where grass-fed cows produce rich, creamy milk for a truly delicious taste. kerrygold. the taste that takes you there.
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