Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo defends his handling of sexual abuse crisis

Malone has been embroiled in scandal ever since his former secretary leaked internal church documents to an investigative reporter.
10:42 | 07/26/19

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Transcript for Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo defends his handling of sexual abuse crisis
I told my wife I want to cry today. Reporter: The moral authority of the catholic church has been ravaged by too many stories like Matt golden's. I was definitely assaulted, and I definitely was molested by father Ryder. Reporter: Matt was an altar boy in Buffalo back in the '90s. He says father Dennis Ryder started asking him to stay late after mass to help count the collection. You know, count like quarters, dimes, you know, and he'd be, you know, counting, you know, the bigger monetary bills or checks that would come in, and that would be in the rectory. But I'd want to play super Mario brothers. Reporter: The priest and the altar boy, he says, playing video games back in the rectory. He would always turn the heat up on higher, and then say hey, would you want to get more comfortable? You know, take your shirt off. Before I know it, I don't have any clothes on, he doesn't have any clothes on. Reporter: Did he touch you? Yeah, we touched each other. Both of us, you know, I would touch his genitalia, he would touch mine. Reporter: Matt says it happened again and again and again. Well over 20 times it happened over the course of three years before I finally said I'm not doing this anymore. Reporter: 20 times. Yes, 20 times. Reporter: Pope Francis has called for a total war against the abuse of minors, saying that the church needs to do a much better job of protecting kids from what he calls ravenous wolves. Yes. Reporter: He's made what he believes to be a good faith effort to address the scandal but some decisions have come under fire, including his decision to restore father Ryder to the ministry. Yesterday in dunkirk, father Ryder was celebrating first communion. Are you completely comfortable with that? I am. Because I have to rely on good people who are in place, independent of me. Our review board is independent. Reporter: Father Ryder denies the allegations and notes that an investigation cleared him. He is alleged to have molested not one, not two but three minors. You suspended him, put him back into ministry earlier this year. Why? Reporter: Charlie spekt has been holding Malone's feet to the fire. I've been dealing with so many of these cases, Charlie, that the details in my weary brain, seriously, get mixed up. Who runs this diocese? Is it you or Terry Lawler? It is I. Reporter: Spekt got help from an unlikely source, the bishop's once-devoted personal assistant, Shavon o'connor. That's her behind the throne. She says she was so disturbed by the handling of the issue she became morally allergic to her job. I was seeing from the inside that there was a deplorable lack of transparency, and I had to do what I could to bring the truth to light. Reporter: So you quietly started xeroxing documents. Yes. That's right. Reporter: She left but not before photocopying files detailing sexual abuse allegations in Buffalo going back decades, including a binder the bishop kept in the closet of his office, along with the vacuum cleaner. They're saying technically it wasn't a vacuum closet, but all I can say was the greatest function of that space was to house the vacuum. It was a very large binder. Reporter: What was it? All pending litigation and past litigation that would have been provided to bishop when he first started as bishop. This is extremely sensitive information. Reporter: And you copied. I did. I felt that law enforcement, particularly, needed to have that information. That I was worried that perhaps they would start to shred things once the stories came out. Reporter: In her final days in the bishop's office, a scene straight out of a movie. She ended up being followed after she left work. He showed us the parking lot where he first approached her and says he could tell she was ready to talk. And she opened her window, and I said I'm Charlie, and she, it was almost like she was waiting for that moment. I'd been watching him for months before I ever met him. He wasn't letting up on this story. So I knew if I was going to talk to someone in the media, it would be Charlie. Reporter: It didn't hurt that Charlie is a former altar boy In the name of the father and the son, the holy spirit. Reporter: He has a brother in seminary and three kids in catholic school. I wanted to tell you, I was so proud how you did in reading and math today. Reporter: Shavon says that's one reason she trusted him to take on the bishop. I just have never, ever doubted he was the right person to work with, and that's been a blessing. I had a, what I think, a wonderful, trusting, working relationship with Shavon. And was I shocked when she took that particular approach? Yes. Reporter: I mean, she betrayed you, but she betrayed you for the truth, right? But, to tell you the truth, and this is my recollection, there was never a time when she said, bishop, we need to sit down and really talk about this. Reporter: Did you ever confront the bishop? I did. Twice in writing. He was always very eager to placate me, to tell me not to worry about it, that it wasn't my concern. That wasn't my job. Don't get involved. Reporter: I have here an e-mail that she sent to you outlining her disappointment and concerns. Yeah, I recall this. Reporter: Have you ever seen that? But I'm willing to admit I didn't handle that properly. And believe me, I've learned from it. Reporter: Do you feel that you've been a good shepherd? I feel that in the almost 20 years that I have been a bishop, I have tried hard to be a good shepherd. I kind of inherited a decades-old, horrific problem of abuse. Reporter: In all fairness, Buffalo is not alone. This is a worldwide scandal. Pope Francis himself acknowledges that. Parish after parish, state after state. There's a reckoning under way, prompted in part by the release last summer of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which alleged a disturbing pattern of church leaders covering up serious allegations of abuse. Priests were raping little boys and girls. And the men of god who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all. For decades. Reporter: The time Pennsylvania released its report, Buffalo was already in the midst of its own reckoning at bishop Malone's direction. In March of 2018, he directed the diocese to disclose the names of dozens of Buffalo priests who were credibly accused of abusing children. 42 names, right? We've added to that. That was the group at that time that my staff here who work on those things knew were for sure were corroborated. Reporter: Have we since learned that maybe a hundred, maybe more? Yeah. That was a decision at the time, it is something that we continue to evaluate over and over again. We're not finished with that list at this point. Reporter: That original list of credibly accused priests did not include priests who belong to religious orders like the jesuits. It didn't include those who were deceased and left out several with multiple accusations of sexual impropriety. Was this a coverup? No, it wasn't a coverup. Reporter: Was it damage control? I don't believe it was damage control. I know that's been said often, and I say it wasn't a coverup, because every single case that has come in has gone to our diocese and review board. Reporter: The fact so many names were not on that list is what spurred Shavon to betray her boss. Some of the new names were later added only after she and Charlie started calling attention to The problem was a lot worse than people knew. Right, yes. Reporter: Buffalo is a city with deep catholic roots, daring to accuse a priest in this town is no small thing. In many communities, the cultural deference to the church is partly what enabled the ongoing abuse, which is not to blame the victim. As the Pennsylvania attorney general put it, predators in every diocese weaponized the catholic faith and used it as a tool of their abuse. Reporter: Matt golden says he was too afraid to tell his own parents what he says father Ryder did to him, but he did tell his godmother, Diane, back in 2007. It was the night of my parents' anniversary as a matter of fact. Reporter: She says she took notes. It says here, Matt's a great kid. I want so much to say something, but I won't because I know it's up to Matt. I know he will, but it might take some time. He was actually shaking. Father Dennis is a child molester, destroyer of my nephew. Reporter: Are there any priests that you know of still in active ministry who have been accused? Of abusing minors? Who have been accused? Or who have been -- Reporter: Who've been credibly accused. What's the reason for the distinction? So there are priests? No, we would only, there's no priest with a substantiated, what you call credible allegation of abuse of a minor in ministry in this diocese. I can testify to that honestly and 100%. Reporter: When we come back, we'll tell you more about father Ryder's case. Did you speak with any of the This is, the victims of this case never came to me. Reporter: And this question. Do you think bishop Malone should go to jail? Shavon's answer and the bishop's reaction when we return

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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