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Church named in latest Child Victims Act suit

FALCONER — A local church has been named in a new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed late last week in state Supreme Court in Chautauqua County.

An unidentified person, going by AB 325 DOE in the 12-page suit, claims to have been sexually abused by the Rev. William G. Ward during a time between 1963 and 1967, when the victim was between 13 and 17 years old. Ward was the pastor at Our Lady of Loreto, 309 W. Everett St., Falconer, in 1967.

“Defendant knew or should have known that Fr. Ward was a danger to children before Fr. Ward sexually assaulted Plaintiff,” the suit states.

It continues: “Prior to the sexual abuse of Plaintiff, Defendant learned or should have learned that Fr. Ward was not fit to work with children. Defendant, by and through its agents, servants and employees, became aware, or should have become aware of Fr. Ward’s propensity to commit sexual abuse and of the risk to Plaintiff s safety. At the very least, Defendant knew or should have known that it did not have sufficient information about whether or not its leaders and people working at Catholic institutions within the Diocese were safe.”

The victim is being represented by Jeff Anderson & Associates, a New York City-based lawfirm handling many of the lawsuits brought on by the passing of the Child Victims Act allowing survivors of sexual abuse to file claims against their abusers.

Ward, who died in 2008, was identified in March 2018 by the Diocese of Buffalo in its list of priests who have been accused credibly of child sexual abuse. In addition to one year in Falconer, he served at a number of churches in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

In October 2019, Ward was mentioned in a Child Victims Act suit filed by a former altar boy who claimed to have been abused in the late ’60s and early ’70s at the now-closed St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church and in the Prince of Peace Catholic School, now the Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls. Attorney Paul Barr said he believed Ward made the plaintiff an altar boy in 1966 in order to sexually abuse him, the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal reported. The boy was 12 or 13 years old at the time, the suit states.

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