Biernat's lawyer told WKBW that Malone's comments constituted blackmail, "directly or at a minimum indirectly." His lawyer Barry Covert did not respond to CNA's interview request by the time of publication.
Back in March, Malone considered sending Fr. Nowak to an institute for mental health treatment, but acknowledged the difficulty of doing so, saying he could "go ballistic" at the request.
In the recorded conversation on Aug. 2, Malone appeared to acknowledge that it was a "crisis" for the diocese, and that if the news was made public it could spell the end of his tenure as bishop.
"We are in a true crisis situation. True crisis. And everyone in the office is convinced this could be the end for me as bishop," Malone said in the recorded conversation.
Malone held a press conference Sept. 4 for local reporters selected by the diocese. The bishop said the scandal is a "convoluted matter," according to WIVB4.
"I'm not a masochist-I'm here because I feel an obligation…to carry on," the bishop told reporters.
In the press conference, Bishop Malone said that Fr. Nowak first agreed in July to go to St. Luke's Institute in Maryland for an assessment, but "did not comply."
In the beginning of August, Nowak again said he would go for an assessment, according to Malone, but again did not go; after the diocese gave Nowak a third opportunity on Aug. 25, he "did not go," Malone said, "and that is when I put him on administrative leave."
In the taped Aug. 2 conversation, Malone allegedly said that Fr. Nowak "has agreed by the way to go to Southdown," an institute for religious and clergy that specializes in mental health and addiction problems. "Cause I told him it's that or leave of absence," Malone said according to abridged transcripts of the conversation reported by WKBW.
"I think if we bring Jeff [Nowak] in, that gets very, who knows what he's gonna do," Malone said. "Even I know he's a loose cannon."
Bishop Malone has been the center of controversy in the diocese for almost a year; in November 2018, his former executive assistant Siobahn O'Connor leaked confidential diocesan documents related to the handling of claims of clerical sexual abuse.
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Last month, a RICO lawsuit was filed against the diocese and the bishop, alleging that the response of the diocese was comparable to an organized crime syndicate.
In the Aug. 2 conversation, Malone also referenced his fear of Biernat going public with the news because of the existence of a letter between Biernat and Bojanowski. Nowak, he said in the taped conversations, was jealous of a supposed relationship between Biernat and Bojanowski. Malone called it "a very complex, convoluted matter," in his Wednesday press conference.
A letter between the Biernat and Bojanowski dated from 2016 was reportedly found by Fr. Nowak in Bojanowski's apartment, the Buffalo News reported. The letter was reported to be a love letter, which Biernat's lawyer has denied.
Crux also reported a 2018 real estate transaction under both Biernat's and Bojanowski's names.
O'Connor, the 2018 whistleblower, said she believes the letter was between friends and not a love letter, and that it has been circulated to distract from the Fr. Nowak scandal.
"I do not believe it is a love letter. I genuinely believe that it was a letter of friendship, which is a form of love and a very important one at that," she wrote on her blog on Friday.