Man Who Stalked Reporter Who Broke Church Scandal Sentenced

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A former employee of a now-closed Buffalo Catholic seminary was sentenced Tuesday to a year in prison for stalking a journalist who reported on alleged sexual abuse there.

Paul Lubienecki, 63, had pleaded guilty to stalking in U.S. District Court in August, WKBW-TV reported.

He was an adjunct professor at Christ the King Seminary when he left threatening voice messages for a former WKBW-TV reporter, Charlie Specht, between August 2019 and February 2020. Specht had broken stories about allegations of sexual abuse at the seminary and a lack of action by former Bishop Richard Malone in response. Malone resigned in December 2019.

After the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo announced it was closing the seminary in February 2020, Lubienecki left a voice message on Specht’s phone saying, “I’m gonna find you. I’m gonna kill you.”

Specht and his family temporarily moved to an undisclosed location after the threat and were given private security. Lubienecki was arrested several days later.

“We were shocked, surprised and scared,” Specht told WKBW-TV at the time. “I got the feeling that this one person — whoever they were — had spent months harassing me about really personal things, and was now threatening violence. I wanted my family to be safe. We put our trust in law enforcement to find out who was doing this.”

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York said in a statement that Lubienecki had taken steps to block his phone number when leaving the voice messages. They said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had investigated the case.