Hardly any of the more than 100 Buffalo area priests implicated as child molesters spent so much as one day in jail.
For years, most of their victims were too scared or embarrassed to make complaints.
But Buffalo Police had marching orders not to arrest Catholic priests, according to former vice squad Detective Martin Harrington and other retired officers. Instead they alerted the bishop’s office to any illegal activities.
“The department’s unwritten policy was that Catholic priests did not get arrested,” said Harrington, who investigated vice crimes for 17 years and retired in 1995. “I never had any experience with priests who molested children. I never heard of any priests molesting children. But we had priests we caught with pornography, or masturbating in the city parks, and our orders were to turn them over to the Buffalo Diocese. The diocese would deal with them … but they would not be arrested.”
The policy “only extended to Catholic priests,” Harrington recalled. “If we caught clergy from other religions, we arrested them.”
Harrington’s recollection was echoed by his former vice squad lieutenant, Martin Jurewicz.