The diocese did not conduct proper investigations of clergy sex abuse, as directed by the USCCB, and failed to refer more than two dozen priests with substantiated accusations of abuse to the Vatican.
When the diocese's "mishandling of specific cases was exposed," the state claims in the suit, it "misled its beneficiaries about its response to sexual abuse allegations and the measures that its leaders had taken to protect the public."
The Buffalo diocese has been embroiled in scandal since November, 2018, when Bishop Emeritus Richard Malone's former assistant leaked records reportedly showing that the diocese worked with lawyers to conceal credible abuse allegations from the public.
While the diocese had reported the names of some priests credibly accused of abuse, it had not reported others, the records appeared to show. Bishop Malone denied claims that he had covered up abuse.
Six months later, Bishop Malone apologized for his handling of the case of Fr. Art Smith, a diocesan priest who faced repeated accusations of abuse and misconduct with minors.
Bishop Malone had written to the Vatican in 2015, in a letter later reported in the press, asking that Fr. Smith be kept in active ministry. He admitted in the same letter that Smith had groomed a young boy, had been accused of inappropriate touching, and refused to stay in a treatment center. Smith was eventually suspended in 2018 after the diocese received a new substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.
In August of 2019, the diocese was named in a RICO lawsuit alleging that its handling of clerical sex abuse was akin to that of an organized crime syndicate.
In September, 2019, Bishop Malone's former secretary leaked audio of conversations where Malone appeared to acknowledge the legitimacy of sexual harassment accusations made against a diocesan priest months before the priest was removed from active ministry.
In Oct., 2019, a Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation of the diocese commenced, and in December, Pope Francis accepted Bishop Malone's resignation.
The Buffalo diocese filed for bankruptcy in February of this year, after it was named in hundreds of clergy sex abuse lawsuits filed in New York courts.