BUFFALO, New York — An adjunct professor at a New York seminary was charged Wednesday with cyberstalking for allegedly threatening a television reporter over his coverage of misconduct allegations within the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
Paul Lubienecki, 62, of Hamburg also is accused of harassing a priest and whistleblower interviewed by the reporter.
He was released on bond after making an initial appearance Wednesday in federal court, U.S. Attorney James Kennedy Jr. said.
Lubienecki did not return a telephone message seeking his response to allegations he made 11 anonymous phone calls to WKBW investigative reporter Charlie Specht since August, including one last week that contained a death threat.
The Feb. 4 call, which launched an FBI investigation, arrived hours after the diocese announced the closure of Christ the King Seminary, where Lubienecki taught.
“You must be so happy the seminary’s closing. You’re a bad person. I know where you live…I’m gonna find you. I’m gonna kill you,” a voicemail said after Specht reported on the closure.
The station’s parent company, the E.W. Scripps Co., arranged for the reporter, his wife and children to live under round-the-clock security away from their home during the investigation, WKBW said.
“We were shocked, surprised and scared,” Specht said.
WKBW reported that Lubienecki also has left menacing messages for former diocesan employee Siobhan O’Connor and Father Ryszard Biernat.
In court, Lubienecki asked for an attorney to be appointed. He is scheduled to return Feb. 21. The charge carries a maximum prison term of five years.
“Criticism of news reporting is acceptable and even welcomed,” Specht said. “But making personal threats against a reporter for simply doing his job goes against the entire American belief in a free press.”
Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.