Fr. Michael R. Freeman – Diocese of Buffalo

Father Michael R. Freeman

Diocese of Buffalo

Ordained: 1972

Removed: 1989

Died: 2010

Assigned as follows:

  • 1973-1975      St. Margaret (Buffalo, NY)
  • 1976                St. Lawrence (Buffalo, NY)
  • 1977-1980      Sacred Heart (Niagara Falls, NY)
  • 1981-1982      On duty outside the Diocese (Fort Benning, GA) 
  • 1983-1984      St. Christopher (Tonawanda, NY)
  • 1985-1987      Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Lancaster, NY)
  • 1988-1989      St. Mary of the Assumption (Lancaster, NY)
  • 1990-2010      Unknown

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Michael R. Freeman:

According to media reports, The Diocese of Buffalo first became aware of Father Freeman’s criminal activity in November 1981, when he admitted inappropriate sexual behavior with young men on multiple occasions at St. Margaret and St. Lawrence Parishes in New York. No action was taken and he was permitted to serve in active ministry until March 1989, when his faculties were revoked. 

Despite the fact that Father Freeman admitted to sexually violating children in at least five of his six ministry assignments, the Dioceses of Buffalo or Erie never notified law enforcement officials. He was sent for treatment on two separate occasions at Southdown Institute, a psychiatric facility for clergy and religious personnel in Canada. He continued to receive financial aid until July 31, 1999, when his new employer would cover his salary and health insurance. He died in 2010.

In March 2018, Father Freeman’s 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 2018, he was named in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. 

In March 2019, a man filed a lawsuit alleging that in 1980, Father Freeman “carefully groomed” him while the boy was preparing for confirmation. The suit said, one evening at Sacred Heart, the priest warned the boy about a supposed medical “condition” that could cause sterility and was common among athletes. The priest told him he was trained as an Air Force chaplain to detect the condition. After ordering him to pull down his pants, Father Freeman “massaged and manipulated” his penis.

“I jumped up. I’m scared and I’m crying,” the man said. “I go to open the door and it was locked with a key, from the inside.”

The man said Father Freeman, tried to get him to calm down and then unlocked the rectory door and let him leave. He went home and told his mother what had happened, and she blamed him for the incident.

“She got upset with me,” Barr said. “She asked me why I was so naive and told me not to tell anybody.”

Another alleged victim of Father Freeman’s, said in June 2019, that as a teen in the early 1980s he told Monsignor (now Bishop) Trautman of sexual abuse by the priest, and Monsignor Trautman told him, “You should never have put yourself in that position.” Father Freeman was kept in ministry. 

In June 2019, a man who accused Father Freeman of sexually abusing him as a child, rejected the largest settlement award to date, $650,000, from the Diocese of Bufffalo’s compensation program so he could file a lawsuit. He called the offer “insignificant” compared to the abuse he endured. He said he wanted a full accounting of how and why the Diocese of Buffalo allowed Father Freeman to continue in ministry for so long.

“I don’t want the church to determine here’s some money, go away. I’d like the trial to happen to see how much of the story we can get out. To get the church to come to the table and admit the wrongdoings,” the victim said.

In August 2019, he filed under the NY Child Victims Act alleging that Father Freeman abused him after the priest was removed from St. Christopher and sent to St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Lancaster. The alleged abuse occurred from 1984 to 1989, when the man was 14 to 19 years old. He said on one occasion Father Freeman “brandished a .38 caliber pistol” and held it to his head. On another occasion, the victim was abused by and with a male prostitute solicited by the priest. 

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.