Fr. Joseph Patrick Friel – Diocese of Buffalo

Father Joseph Patrick Friel

Diocese of Buffalo

Ordained: 1957

Died: 1995

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 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, were 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. 

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Buffalo.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Buffalo, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Buffalo now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims.  Call us at (888) 283-9922 or send an email to adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.