A Hamburg man who taught at Christ the King Seminary has admitted harassing and intimidating a WKBW news reporter because he was angry over the victim’s reporting on the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Paul E. Lubienecki, 63, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to stalking, a charge that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Sentencing is set for Nov. 9.
Lubienecki left messages threatening to kill the reporter and his family over his reporting on the closing of Christ the King Seminary.
Lubienecki, on six occasions between August 2019 and February 2020, left “harassing and threatening voicemails” for the reporter, using a cell phone that blocked his number, the office reported. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aaron J. Mango and Charles M. Kruly.
WKBW identified the reporter as Charlie Specht, who has produced numerous stories on abuse within the local Catholic diocese for that news station. Beginning in 2018, Specht led several investigations into Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone, which revealed that he mishandled sexual abuse cases within the diocese and lead to his eventual resignation.
Prosecutors said Lubienecki used a TracFone, a prepaid cellular phone with no caller ID number, to call the reporter at least six times between August 2019 and February 2020.
WKBW reported that Lubienecki made references to Specht’s family and where they lived in the threatening phone calls, forcing them to move to an undisclosed location with private security for a week. “I’m gonna find you. I’m gonna kill you,” Lubienecki said in one of the messages.
Lubienecki left messages threatening to kill Specht and his family over his reporting on the closing of Christ the King Seminary, where he’d worked, and a priest abuse scandal in the Diocese of Buffalo, according to WKBW.