A New York priest who was ousted from his ministry over accusations of child sexual abuse will take over control of a $2 million estate belonging to a 93-year-old widow, The Buffalo News reports.
Before her death, Ruth Peters made Rev. David W. Bialkowski the executor of her estate. She also left him $125,000 after her death in 2019. But according to attorneys who are disputing her will, Peters was not of sound mind and Bialkowski took advantage of her.
“Just as he apparently ‘groomed’ young boys, he has become the sole beneficiary under the will of a wealthy elderly widow,” attorney Sean A. Fitzgerald, a court-appointed guardian representing relatives of Peters, said in court records. “The methods of grooming (a) boy or teenager are the same as the methods of exercising undue influence over a person.”
Attorneys for Bialkowski say the will signed by Peters is “completely legitimate” and he has already agreed to distribute most of her estate to various charities.
“This case has nothing to do with children,” attorney Robert M. Ciesielski told The Buffalo News. “It has to do with this woman’s will and following her wishes.”
“Ruth had no children, no brothers or sisters, no really close relatives. When her husband died, the priest was kind and helpful to her,” Ciesielski said.
But two former employees of Bialkowski's ministry say he is not to be trusted.
“These old ladies used to adore Bialkowski,” said Andrew Kowtalo, who served as organist at the parish for 10 years. “He’s very good at playing to people’s needs and gaining people’s trust.”
“Here comes Father David, playing on his good senses, because he knew these women were lonely and he used that to get what he wanted,” said Kowtalo, who said he was fired by Bialkowski for bringing up his alleged misconduct.
Read more at The Buffalo News.