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.
A month later, the Vatican ordered an apostolic visitation of Malone's diocese, which has been embroiled in scandal since November 2018, when 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, 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.
Last week, New York's Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit in the state's supreme court against the Diocese of Buffalo. Malone, retired auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz, and Buffalo's apostolic administrator, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, were also named in the lawsuit.
The state alleges that the diocese, Malone, and Grosz failed to properly investigate claims of clergy sex abuse. The state also claims that diocesan leadership did not "refer unassignable priests to the Vatican," monitor priests with credible accusations, or take necessary action against diocesan priests credibly accused of child sex abuse. It argued that, under state laws governing non-profits, the diocese did not act in "good faith" by failing to follow its own procedures on clergy sex abuse.