The complaint against Lubienecki records that two other anonymous witnesses received a harassing voicemail in December 2019. In the document, a voicemail left to an anonymous subject identifying as “witness 1” is recorded as saying, "...you destroyed a good bishop, a good man. You must be so proud of being such an asshole. Leave the priesthood or we'll get you."
It is not confirmed whether “witness 1” and “witness 2” in the complaint are Fr. Biernat and Siobhan O’Connor respectively. The U.S. Western District of New York only said that Lubienecki has pleaded guilty to charges against Specht.
Biernat, who was suspended by Malone after leaking recordings to the press, told WKBW that during his time in the seminary in 2003, he was sexually abused by one of the priests in the Diocese of Buffalo, Fr. Art Smith, at the rectory of St. Thomas Aquinas parish.
When Fr. Biernat went to the former auxiliary bishop of Buffalo Edward Grosz with the allegations in 2004, Grosz allegedly blamed him for not locking the door. He threatened his vocation if he did not keep silent about it, suggesting he might be deported to Poland.
Bishop Grosz has since “categorically” denied the claim by Fr. Biernat. Fr. Smith was later removed from ministry for other credible accusations of abuse.
As of early July, Grosz faces an allegation that he abused a child in 1990, the diocese announced. Grosz denies the allegation.
After Lubienecki’s arrest last year Bishop Scharfenberger decried the professor’s actions in a series of tweets on Feb. 13.
"There is no place - nor should there be any tolerance - for threats or harassment towards members of the news media or any one else. This is against who we are as Christians, but also against our nation's founding principles that guarantee freedom to the press and freedom of speech," Scharfenberger said.
"As a Church we must be able to withstand the glaring light of scrutiny - even as we seek to pierce the darkness with our own light, demonstrating Christ's abundant love, forgiveness and care for us all."
Specht has continued his investigations into diocesan sex abuse. Fr. Biernat has not yet resumed public ministry, but in a January interview with NPR, the current bishop did not rule out returning him to ministry.
"All I can say is that I am open to meeting with any of them, that would like to come and talk to me so that we can evaluate their situation," Fisher said.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Currently, Biernat is listed as a “priest in service” on the website of St. Timothy Church in Tonawanda. His name is not included on the “clergy and staff” web page.