Allegations of Abuse by Priests Focus of Deposition by Archbishop
By Edith Brady-Lunny
August 13, 2013
[Bishop Myers deposition via BishopAccountability.org in easy to use format]
[Via Jeff Anderson & Associates: Deposition of Archbishop Myers Redacted]
[Deposition of Msgr Gerald Ward Redacted]
[Deposition of Archbishop Myers Redacted]
A haphazard filing system and the Irish inclinations of a former bishop of the Peoria Catholic Diocese are among the reasons allegations of sexual misconduct by some priests were delayed or never turned over to police, according to 200-page deposition released Tuesday by the lawyer for a former Normal student who has been awarded $1.35 million by the diocese in an abuse case.
John Myers, currently the archbishop of Newark, N.J., answered questions in 2010 as part of a lawsuit filed by Andrew Ward, now 25, of Michigan. Ward accused the late Monsignor Thomas Maloney, formerly of Epiphany Church in Normal, of abusing him when he was in the second grade.
Ward and his parents announced the settlement Tuesday at a news conference in Newark.
“I couldn’t tell and didn’t for a long time, but when I did my parents and family believed me, but nobody in the diocese or at church did,” Ward said of his claim against the priest he described as “like a God to me when I was young.”
The diocese declined to comment on the settlement, citing “the confidentiality of those involved in a legal case.”
In his deposition, Myers said Maloney denied the allegations in media reports about the lawsuit, and in conversations the two had days before his death. Maloney also maintained his innocence throughout a Normal police investigation into Ward’s claims and after Ward filed his lawsuit. No criminal charges were filed against the priest.
In his four-hour deposition, Myers was presented with documents showing the diocese received complaints about sexual abuse and inappropriate conduct by Maloney from at least five other alleged victims besides Ward.
In a September 2000 letter to an Epiphany parent who expressed concerns that Maloney was seen late at night with a young girl in his car, Myers responded, “I do know that Father loves people, especially young people, and that he cares for them generously. We have never had any allegations of impropriety.”
But documents produced in the case show diocesan officials received several complaints about Maloney before Myers wrote the letter.
Other abuse reports
Myers said former Peoria Bishop Edward O’Rourke, who also is deceased, did not pass along any allegations of abuse by any priests when Myers took over as bishop in 1990.
“He was an Irishman who did not like to talk about such things,” Myers told Ward’s lawyer, Jeff Anderson.
Myers also denied finding any incriminating evidence involving abuse by Peoria Diocesan priests when he reviewed documents shortly after he became bishop.
At least five reports followed during Myers’ 11 years as bishop, he admitted. One priest, Frank Engels, admitted his abuse, but that information was not immediately given to authorities, Myers acknowledged.
“Eventually, it was. He’s in prison in Wisconsin now,” Myers stated. Engels is serving a 10-year term.
A second priest who admitted he abused several minors was allowed to retire without legal consequences, said Myers, adding he didn’t report that abuse “because he was out of circulation.”
Two other priests were removed from their posts after allegations surfaced.
If Myers didn’t know about reports of abuse received by the diocese it was “because the slipshod filing system that we had between two different buildings … there may have been some things that got by me,” he said in his deposition.
He said he first learned some details of alleged abuse involving Maloney during the deposition. For example, Myers said he had not previously seen an incident report written by the vicar general of an allegation received by Twin City priest, the Rev. Gerald Ward, in 1995. That complaint was made by a Springfield woman who alleged Maloney had abused her sister about 20 years earlier.
The vicar general wrote a report about the allegation and put it in Maloney’s personnel file, according to the Rev. Ward’s deposition given in the lawsuit. Ward (no relation to Andrew Ward) also testified he did not report the allegation to police.
When asked what he thought of the woman’s letter, Myers said, “I would have preferred to have had an investigation.”
The concerns about Maloney’s conduct forwarded in letters from other parents included a mother who believed the priest solicited sex from her son at the church and another woman who was upset when she saw Maloney hugging and kissing a girl during church services.
The archbishop also denied any knowledge of a 1994 claim by a former Twin City woman who said Maloney sexually abused her as a child in the 1970s.