Father Riter at center of lawsuit

A lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court on Thursday against the Diocese of Buffalo has Father Dennis Riter at the center. A 33-year-old man who’s claiming sexual abuse by Riter believes the diocese was negligent and failed to warn the public.

Matthew Golden, the plaintiff, says he was abused as a youth at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Buffalo. According to the lawsuit, from approximately 1996 to 1999 when the plaintiff was 10- to 13-years-old, Riter engaged in “unpermitted sexual contact with the plaintiff.”

In March 2018, Golden contacted the diocese to report that Riter sexually abused him as a child after learning that he was still working as a priest at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, located on Washington Street in Dunkirk. Subsequently on March 26, the diocese placed Riter on leave to investigate Golden’s allegation.

According to the lawsuit, parishioners at the church were not told the reason for his administrative leave.

Toward the end of June, the diocese returned Riter to his assignment as pastor at the church in Dunkirk, stating that the allegations were “found unsubstantiated” by its review board. The lawsuit states that the diocese hasn’t provided further information or explanation as to the results of the investigation.