A retired priest in Buffalo, New York admitted on Tuesday that he had abused dozens of teen boys during the 1970s and 1980s. The clergyman's admission came only after he was publicly accused by a man who said he was abused 35 years ago.
The Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits made the admission after a South Buffalo man publicly accused Orsolits of abusing him when he was a teenager during a ski outing more than 35 years ago.
Michael F. Whalen, 52, said Orsolits was his parish priest at St. John Vianney in Orchard Park when the abuse occurred.
Orsolits said he was unable to remember Whalen, but he then went on to admit to abusing "probably dozens" of boys to a Buffalo News reporter.
He told The News that he was later sent for treatment at a psychological facility in Canada, before the diocese assigned him to work at a small rural church and school. He was removed by the diocese from ministry in 2003.
During a 10-minute interview, Orsolits talked casually of having had sexual contact with teenage boys, saying it had been fueled by alcohol. He admitted to having touched teenage boys sexually and having had them touch him.
The 78-year-old former priest said he had been "led on" by some of the boys and that the sexual touching was consensual, adding that he always stopped in a boy resisted his advances.
Following his six-month stay at Southdown Institute in Canada, a facility to which numerous Catholic priests were sent for treatment following abuse allegations, Orsolits said he never abused another teenage boy.
From there, he went to a small parish and taught at a high school.
In 2003, Bishop Henry J. Mansell informed Orsolits he had to retire from ministry and could no longer perform priestly functions in public, Orsolits said. A priest relieved of his duties can no longer celebrate Mass publicly, administer the sacraments or wear clerical garb.
The diocese portrayed Orsolits' removal at the time as a retirement, even though he was among a handful of priests in the Buffalo diocese who were removed from ministry so that the diocese would be in compliance with a newly implemented "zero tolerance" national church policy regarding sexual abuse allegations.