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Does Grand Jury Subpoena Signal RICO Investigation of Buffalo Diocese?

Attorney Barry N. Covert was interviewed by WKBW’s I-Team Chief Investigator Charlie Specht for a story that 7 Eyewitness News introduced as a “big development in the clergy sex abuse crisis”.

The 7 Eyewitness News story addresses an article recently published in The Buffalo News, which reported that subpoenas were issued in March 2019 as part of an investigation involving clergy sex abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo.

In this interview with WKBW, Barry Covert provides insight and analysis regarding: why the latest subpoenas carry unique significance; what the subpoenas reveal about laws that federal prosecutors may be using in this investigation; and where the focus of the investigation may be directed.

Continue reading for details on Barry Covert’s comments or click in the video below to watch 7 Eyewitness News’ full story.  You will also find the full story on WKBW’s website.

Subpoena Reveals Federal Grand Jury Investigation

7 Eyewitness News states that the March 2019 subpoenas reported by The Buffalo News are the third round of subpoenas issued to the Diocese of Buffalo.  Attorney Barry Covert pointed out to WKBW’s Charlie Specht that the latest subpoenas differ from the first two rounds issued by federal prosecutors. This latest round of subpoenas provide the first confirmation of a federal grand jury investigation.

Covert stated “It’s very significant because that means they have taken this investigation to the next level. Now we know that there is a federal grand jury that is specifically tasked with looking at these claims, these allegations”


Subpoena Issued for Compensation Program for Victims of Clergy Sex Abuse

The Buffalo News is reporting that a federal grand jury has issued a subpoena as part of an investigation involving clergy sex abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo.

The subpoena was served on two retired judges, former state Surrogate’s Court Judge Barbara Howe and former Appellate Division Justice Jerome Gorski, for records they reviewed as part of a compensation program established by the Buffalo Diocese for victims of clergy abuse.

Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program

The Diocese of Buffalo created the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) on March 1, 2018. The IRCP was one of many compensation programs established by catholic dioceses throughout New York State for victims of clergy sex abuse.

The Buffalo Diocese hired Judge Howe and Justice Gorski to serve as administrators of the IRCP. As administrators, Howe and Gorski reviewed the cases of abuse victims who applied to the IRCP. The administrators then decided whether to reject or accept an applicant’s claim and determined the amount of an award for applicants who were offered settlements.

Attorneys for Sexual Abuse Victims Notified

Lawyers representing sex abuse victims who applied to the IRCP were notified that a subpoena had been served for files related to their client’s case.

Barry N. Covert, who represents over 40 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, was one of the lawyers notified that a subpoena had been served to the IRCP administrators for records related to one of his clients.

Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Begin to Tell Their Story as Child Victims Act’s Look-Back Window Approaches

When New York State’s Child Victims Act was signed in to law, the statute of limitations that restricted survivors of childhood sexual abuse from pursuing justice against their abusers changed dramatically.

Empowered with new rights under New York State law, adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse are coming forward to seek justice and shine a spotlight on abusers and institutions whose negligence allowed the abuse to occur.

A recent cover story in The Buffalo News discussed the Child Victims Act, the upcoming “look-back window” period, and the story of one abuse victim in particular, Kevin J. Koscielniak.

Barry Covert, a Senior Partner at Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria and the attorney for many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, was interviewed for The Buffalo News’ recent story. Mr. Covert discussed how widespread the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse has been in Western New York and his experiences with the process of representing survivors who were abused by catholic priests in the Buffalo Diocese before the Child Victims Act became a law.

Child Victims Act Look-Back Window

Before the Child Victims Act was enacted, if a survivor of childhood sexual abuse in New York State wanted to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser, they had to do so by their 23rd birthday. Under the Child Victims Act, that statute has significantly expanded and victims of sexual abuse now have until their 55th birthday to take legal action.