Fr. Dennis Riter has been placed on administrative leave from St. Elisabeth Ann Seton Parish in Dunkirk, the Buffalo Diocese has confirmed. The news came allegations from two former altar boys and their families, including a detailed interview on WKBW Channel 7 in Buffalo.
The allegations did not include Batavia.
Riter was pastor from 2002 to 2009 at St. Mary’s Church in Batavia, before his assignment to Dunkirk.
“After receiving an abuse complaint against Father Dennis G. Riter, Bishop Richard J. Malone has placed Father Riter on administrative leave as an investigation continues,” the Diocese said in a statement. “Father Riter is the pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Dunkirk. The District Attorney’s Office has been notified. Please note that this administrative leave is for the purpose of investigation and does not imply any determination as to the truth or falsity of the complaint.”
In an open letter to parishioners at the Dunkirk Parish, Malone asked people to pray for Riter and the investigation.
“Of course, we continue to pray for all victims of abuse,” he wrote. “Know that I am praying for each of you especially as we celebrate the holiest week of the year when we recall the paschal mystery by which we were redeemed through Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.”
Riter replaced Becker, who was reassigned suddenly in 2002 due to what was described as a medical leave of absence at the time.
Two weeks ago, The Buffalo News featured an article about three men who accused Becker of sexually assaulting them when they were children, including at a camp Becker owned in Java, Wyoming County.
Becker denied the allegations to the paper. He is retired and lives in Florida, according to the article.
The Diocese also issued a news release last week, giving the names of diocesan priests who were removed from the ministry, were retired or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in the Diocese of Buffalo since 1950.
A total of 42 priests were named on the list, including several who had served at parishes in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.
Riter was not among those listed. St. Mary’s is now part of Resurrection Parish.
In his letter to the Dunkirk parish, Malone asked that those with any information they’d like to share about Fr. Riter contact the Diocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator Jackie Joy at (716) 895-3010.”