Father Joseph Patrick Friel
Diocese of Buffalo
Assigned as follows:
- 1958 St. Mary (Little Valley, NY)
- 1959 St. Joseph (North Tonawanda, NY)
- 1960-1964 St. Aloysius Gonzaga (Cheektowaga, NY)
- 1965-1966 Basilica of Our Lady of Victory (Lackawanna, NY)
- 1967-1970 Fourteen Holy Helpers (Gardenville, NY)
- 1971 St. John the Evangelist (Buffalo, NY)
- 1972 Absent on sick leave
- 1973-1974 Blessed Sacrament (Kenmore, NY)
- 1975 St. Bernard (Buffalo, NY)
- 1976-1977 St. Bartholomew (Buffalo, NY)
- 1978-1982 St. Patrick (Randolph, NY)
- 1983-1986 St. Vincent (North Evans, NY)
- 1987 Awaiting assignment
- 1988-1990 St. Charles (Niagara Falls, NY)
- 1991 St. Leo Church (Amherst, NY)
- 1992-1994 Absent on sick leave
Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Joseph Patrick Friel:
Father Joseph Patrick Friel served in 13 local parishes between 1958 and 1991. According to media reports, in 1970, Father Friel was accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage boy in the late 1960s while he was an altar boy at Fourteen Holy Helpers. When the boy and his parents reported the abuse to Monsignor Martin Ebner, they were accused of lying and were threatened to be excommunicated from the church.
“The pastor became very irate, very upset and told me I was a liar. He said I was committing a sacrilegious sin by lying. He said I could be excommunicated from the church for telling such a lie,” the man said.
“He never conducted any kind of investigation. He never questioned anyone. He just told me, right then and there, off the cuff, that I was a liar,” he recalled.
According to the civil suit filed in July 1994, Father Friel took the boy out of his religious education class and led him to a bedroom on the second floor of the rectory. He removed his pants and had sex with him, the victim said in court papers. Father Friel assured him there was nothing “dirty” about what they had done, but asked him not to tell anyone about it. The boy said his parents became suspicious and made him tell about the incidents after he refused to go to his religious education classes. The suit was ultimately dropped due to the statute of limitations.
Father Friel retired in 1992 and died in August 1995.
In March 2018, his name was included in the Diocese of Buffalo’s list of priests who “were removed from ministry, was retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.” No information regarding the allegations was disclosed, however, the list includes deceased priests only if they have more than one allegation.
In August 2019, three people, including the man whose suit was dropped in 1994, filed suit under the Child Victims Act, claiming Father Friel abused them in the 1960s. One suit alleges Father Friel abused a 13-year-old parishioner at Our Lady of Victory National Shrine in 1966. According to another lawsuit, starting in 1966 and into 1967, he abused a child about 12 years old at Fourteen Holy Helpers in Cheektowaga.
In 2020, Fr. Friel was named in another lawsuit against the Diocese of Buffalo. He was accused of sexually abusing a minor. The details of the sexual abuse allegations, including when and where the alleged abuse occurred, or the victim’s age/gender, are unknown.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo and throughout New York. The Diocese of Buffalo filed for federal bankruptcy protection in February 2020. Anyone sexually abused by a priest or employee of the Diocese of Buffalo may be entitled to file a claim against the Diocese in these bankruptcy proceedings, but very strict filing deadlines apply. Most victims of abuse in the Diocese of Buffalo will never be able to take action against the Diocese of Buffalo if they miss this bankruptcy filing deadline, so it is important that you contact us immediately to discuss your potential case.