From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Peoria Diocese Ignored Red Flags In Priest Abuse Case


Archbishop John J. Myers stands outside Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Newark, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP)

The Diocese of Peoria is paying more than $1.35 million to settle a civil case brought by former Epiphany Church Altar Boy Andrew Ward.

Ward claims Monsignor Thomas Maloney sexually assaulted him in the mid 1990's. Maloney died in 2009. He served at parishes in Lexington, Chenoa, and East Peoria in addition to Normal, and as the chaplain of Bloomington Central Catholic High School.

A deposition for the lawsuit released under terms of the settlement shows Maloney was eventually accused of sexual misconduct by five alleged victims. Maloney was also accused of relating anecdotes about the sexual conduct of another priest to an adolescent confirmand in the confessional.

Church records also indicate diocese officials turned a blind eye to such questionable activities as taking eighth grade girls to lunch at a restaurant called "The Pub," and a late night trip to Walgreens with a young girl to buy her candy.

Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said former Peoria Bishop John Myers, who was bishop in Peoria from 1990 to 2001, dropped the ball.

“Bishop Myers had information that he failed to turn over to police," she said. "It appears had that had police had the additional information, it’s likely they would have brought charges against Monsignor Maloney.”

Myers has gone on to become Archbishop of Newark. In the deposition, he said he was unaware of allegations of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior made against Maloney. He also said he never heard that a woman called the diocese claiming Maloney abused her sister in the 1970s, or that a family complained that Maloney talked about sex with their 13-year-old son.

Myers has been under fire in Newark for his handling of a priest who broke an agreement with prosecutors not to have contact with minors. A spokesman for Myers has not returned a request for comment.

The Diocese of Peoria said it does not comment on settlements.

"It is the standard policy of the Diocese of Peoria not to discuss details of any specific settlement out of respect for the confidentiality of those involved in a legal case," said the Diocese of Peoria, in a statement issued Tuesday. "Any funds used for settlements do not come from Diocesan or parish assets, but are paid through insurance coverages available to the Diocese."

Categories: Criminal Justice, Religion