|Parents' Suit Intended to 'Alarm' Diocese
By Andy Kravetz
June 11, 2008
Parents of a former Normal boy allegedly abused years ago by a parish priest say they hope a lawsuit filed today will serve as an "alarm" for the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.
Dave and Joanne Ward, parents of Andrew Ward, stood outside the Peoria County Courthouse shortly after lunchtime to meet with reporters about the suit filed against the church and Monsignor Thomas Maloney, who they claim sexually abused their child in late 1995 and early 1996 at Epiphany Church in Normal.
"The church that I have given my life to is now fighting against me and ruined my son's childhood," Joanne Ward said through tears.
Their attorney, Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul. Minn., said the suit is different from nearly a dozen others filed in this county against the diocese in that there wasn't a large passage of time between the alleged abuse and legal action.
In most cases, the alleged victims waited decades before filing their case, dooming them to dismissal because of the statute of limitations. Not so here, Anderson said, who added they have statements from another girl who claims Maloney abused her a year before Andrew Ward.
That girl, the attorney and Wards say, told the diocese, which did nothing.
Patricia Gibson, an Diocesan official, declined to comment on the suit, saying she had not seen the document and did not know it had been filed.
Maloney, who is now retired, has also been assigned to churches in Ottawa, East Peoria and Chenoa. The lawsuit alleges the diocese moved Maloney around from parish to parish to conceal his "criminal activity."
The Wards say their son went to Normal police in 2007. For 12 years, Anderson said, Andrew Ward didn't share what Maloney allegedly did to him, and as a result, acted out toward his mother and to authority figures.
Finally, through therapy, they say, he's doing better, but that's relative. Compared to those people who haven't been molested, he's struggling on a "day-to-day basis."
The family said they wanted their situation to help others and to raise the alarm for other parents whose children might have been abused by Maloney or other priests.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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