Diocese reinstates two priests with county connections
Two priests with connections to Chautauqua County have been been cleared of any wrongdoing following an independent investigation by an Independent Review Board of the Diocese of Buffalo.
Bishop Michael W. Fisher has accepted the the board’s recommendation and has posthumously reinstated the Rev. Robert Beiter and the Rev. Thomas Wopperer, 84, both of whom were previously placed on administrative leave.
Beiter, who served as pastor of the St. Patrick’s Church in Brocton, died June 13 at the age of 83. Wopperer is retired from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Dunkirk, but assists with priestly ministry.
In a news release issued Thursday morning, the diocese noted it followed its rigorous policies and protocols in dealing with the abuse allegations in question, including notifying the district attorney’s office, which declined to act on the allegations. In addition, Diocesan attorneys reached out to the attorneys for the plaintiff to gain the cooperation of the plaintiff in the investigation. The plaintiff declined to cooperate with the investigation. The Diocese also confronted both priests with the allegations, each of whom denied ever committing any acts of abuse. They further participated in the investigations and Wopperer appeared before the Independent Review Board.
The Diocese of Buffalo encourages any person who wishes to report an instance of sexual abuse or sexual harassment by a member of the clergy, diocesan employee, or volunteer to contact the Victims Assistance Coordinator at 716-895-3010 or Jacqueline.firstname.lastname@example.org. For a more extensive overview of resources, go to buffalodiocese.org/abuse-response/.