“When Janet and Frank Larango moved from North Tonawanda to an Atlanta suburb, they were happy the Catholic priest they considered part of their family also made the move.
The Rev. Stanley Idziak, who had celebrated Masses at Our Lady of Czestochowa parish in the 1960s and 1970s, arranged to have himself transferred in 1978 to the Larangos’ new parish 900 miles away.
The Larangos did not suspect anything beyond friendship was motivating Idziak’s move.
But they discovered later Idziak had begun secretly molesting her two sons when they were children in North Tonawanda and he resumed the abuse after relocating, according Janet Larango.
The Larangos did not discover the betrayal until a decade later, in 1988, after another couple in the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta accused Idziak of sexually abusing their sons, said Janet Larango.
It was a dark secret that had filled their sons with shame, said Janet Larango, 79.
Janet Larango shared the family’s story with The Buffalo News following reports about another Buffalo area priest, the Rev. Norbert Orsolits, who admitted to sexually abusing “probably dozens” of teenage boys. The admission has prompted other victims to air stories of abuse that happened years ago at parishes within the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
Idziak was laicized, or discharged as a priest, in 1993 because of the allegations raised against him in Georgia, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta Archdiocese said Tuesday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that the Atlanta Archdiocese paid $570,000 to settle a 1991 lawsuit over sexual abuse brought against it and Idziak by another Georgia family that accused Idziak of sexual abusing their two sons. A diocese spokesman said at the time that the payment was not an admission of guilt but “a recognition of a serious claim and obvious anguish on the part of the family.”
The Larangos never sued, either in New York or Georgia.
But the Archdiocese of Atlanta paid for counseling services for their sons after they complained about Idziak, Janet Larango said.
The sons, Rick and Billy Larango, were 29 and 24, respectively, when they finally confided they had been repeatedly abused by Idziak, Janet Larango said. Neither son was aware that the other had been abused.
Idziak died in 2017 in New Mexico at the age of 82. He had moved to Albuquerque after receiving treatment at a facility there that specialized in working with priests accused of sexual abuse, according to the Atlanta newspaper.
Another man who accused Idziak of sexually abusing him in Georgia from 1982 to 1985, when he was 12 to 15 years old, sued Idziak’s estate in 2017. A settlement was reached in that lawsuit, but the amount was not publicly released.
The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has never publicly identified Idziak as being the target of a sexual abuse complaint. It has reported receiving 113 complaints against priests in the diocese since 1950, but has not identified most of the accused priests. A Buffalo diocese spokesman declined this week to comment on the Larangos’ allegations against Idziak. He also declined to say if the diocese has received complaints about Idziak from anyone else.
In North Tonawanda
The Larangos lived across the street from Our Lady of Czestochowa in North Tonawanda, above a funeral home they operated on Oliver Street. Idziak had grown up in North Tonawanda, attended Our Lady of Czestochowa, and in 1962 was ordained as a priest by the Pallottine Fathers, a religious order that operates Infant Jesus Shrine in Wheatfield. The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo allowed him to work at Our Lady of Czestochowa although he was not a diocese priest.
“My husband was a lector at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church and got to know Father Stan,” Janet Larango said. “He would serve two Masses on Sunday and between Masses he would come over to our house for coffee.”
“I thought I was lucky to have Father Stan interested in my boys. What other role model would you want to have?” Janet Larango said.
Rick Larango told her that Idziak began sexually abusing him when he was 9 years old.
“There were times when I worried if I was gay and didn’t know it, and times when I knew it was wrong and would do it anyway and feel remorseful. I thought I was the only boy,” Rick Larango told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2002.
Later, Idziak turned his attention to Rick’s younger brother, Bill, and began sexually abusing him when he was about 5 years old, Janet Larango said.
Idziak would let Billy sit on his lap while he drove his car around North Tonawanda, Janet Larango said.
“He’d unzip my pants and play with me,” Bill Larango told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 1992 story.
Their parents did not suspect anything was wrong. For years, the priest had been taking their sons out separately to eat, to the movies, to run errands and on vacations, Janet Larango said.
“A lot of times the boys didn’t want to go with Father Stan. We would insist that they go. He didn’t have any children. He was alone. We said, ‘You’ll be company for him,’ ” she recalled.
Abuse continues in Atlanta
After Frank Larango had suffered a couple heart attacks, the family moved to Dunwoody, Ga., where Frank had relatives. He found work managing a few St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores and Janet Larango went to work for a funeral home.
In 1978, Idziak left the Pallottine order and moved to Dunwoody to serve as a priest there.
“He had lived with us until he started serving as an assistant pastor at All Saints, the parish we were going to,” Janet Larango said.
Idziak was so close to the family, she said, that they gave him a key to their home. “We had an in-ground pool and he could use the pool whenever he wanted,” she said.
Idziak hired Billy to cut the grass at All Saints Church or rake leaves, Janet Larango said. Her son later told her that after the lawn work, Idziak would take him into the parish house and into his bedroom and molest him.
“He took me into the bedroom and took his clothes off and lay down on the bed,” Bill Larango told the Atlanta Journal-Constitutionin 1992. “He started off on his stomach, but then he would turn over. When he turned over, he took my hand and put it where no man’s hand is supposed to go.”
In 1988, Janet Larango read an Atlanta newspaper story detailing how an unnamed priest who served at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in the archdiocese had been sent to a treatment facility in the Washington, D.C., area following allegations that he had sexually abused a boy.
Larango says she immediately suspected the priest was Idziak, who by then was assigned to the Corpus Christi Church, and who had told her he was going to Washington for medical treatment.
Janet Larango said she and her husband telephoned Idziak to confront him.
“He told me there had never been any penetration. He said it three times,” Janet Larango said. “He was referring just to Billy. He didn’t think we knew about Rick.”
The parents traveled to Oklahoma, where their then grown sons were residing, to ask them if they had been abused. After their initial denials, the brothers told their parents what Idziak had done to them, the mother said.
Billy Larango, an airplane pilot, died of natural causes at the age of 30 in 1994. He left behind a wife and a son.
Rick Larango, 59 and the father of three grown children, is serving his second tour in Afghanistan as an Army triage nurse. He plans to retire from the Army later this year. Efforts by The News to contact him were unsuccessful.
The Buffalo News contacted Janet Larango, who lives in the Atlanta area, after learning from a family friend that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had published stories about their allegations against Idziak.
The tip about Idziak was prompted by stories last week in The News about sexual abuse allegations against Rev. Orsolits, who served in numerous parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. After a Buffalo man publicly accused Orsolits of molesting him years ago, the retired priest admitted to a Buffalo News reporter that he had sexually abused “probably dozens” of teenage boys.
Janet Larango said her family never filed a complaint with the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo or with the Pallottine religious order in Wheatfield.
“We dealt with it here in Atlanta,” she said.
Buffalo diocese spokesman George Richert declined to comment when asked by The News if the diocese had ever received any sexual abuse complaints about Idziak. Richert pointed out that Idziak was not a diocese priest.
The Rev. John Posiewala, who serves as superior of the Pallottine community at the Infant Jesus Shrine in Wheatfield, said he began his service there in 1979, just after Idziak had left the order. In his many years at the shrine, Posiewala said he has never received a complaint about Idziak.
But Posiewala said he was informed years ago about the allegations against Idziak by an Atlanta Archdiocese official.
“How does it happen that these kinds of people went through the seminary? They should never have been ordained,” Posiewala said. “I am so sorry especially for the people who were the victims of this. Every one places so much trust in the priest.”
Janet Larango said she blames the Catholic church for protecting Idziak and other child-molesting priests.
“I blame the hierarchy of the church for covering this up for so many years across the country. They committed the sin by hiding it,” she said.”