Lawsuits Claim Priest in "the Exorcist," Three Others Sexually Abused Mcquaid Students
By Steve Orr
Democrat & Chronicle
July 21, 2020
This story was amended on Wednesday, Jul\y 22 to include a comment from McQuaid Jesuit High School.
Three priests and a lay teacher who taught at McQuaid Jesuit High School decades ago have been accused of sexually abusing students there in newly filed lawsuits.
In a suit filed Tuesday morning, a one-time star teacher at the Brighton school, the Rev. William O'Malley, was accused of sexually abusing a student there in 1975 or 1976.
O'Malley, who left McQuaid in 1986, was well-known for his teaching and writing and for his role as a Jesuit priest in the supernatural hit film "The Exorcist."
It is the second such suit against O'Malley. The first, filed 11 months ago, accused him of sexually abusing a student at the all-boys school in 1985 and 1986.
A separate lawsuit filed Monday laid new accusations against another former teacher at McQuaid — John Tobin, who has been the subject of high-profile claims of sexual abuse by a McQuaid graduate and the focus of other complaints to police.
The new lawsuit involves a different alleged victim who has not come forward until now, according to a lawyer whose firm brought the case.
The suit says Tobin, who died in 2000, sexually abused the unnamed student at the Brighton high school in 1978 and 1979.
That same lawsuit also accuses the Rev. Harry Untereiner of sexually abusing the student in 1980. Untereiner, who was at McQuaid for a brief period ending in 1980, had not been publicly accused of sexual abuse before now.
Tobin was a foreign-languages teacher and swim team coach at the school between 1964 and 1993, when he was fired for unspecified misconduct on a class trip to Europe.
One of his other students, the writer Tom Chiarella, published a lengthy article in Esquire magazine in 2003 about Tobin and his experiences at McQuaid, and has spoken several times to the Democrat and Chronicle about his time there.
Another lawsuit that was filed Monday accuses the Rev. James Curry, who taught history and theology at McQuaid in the 1970s and ‘80s, of sexually abusing a student there between 1974 and 1977. Curry also had not been publicly accused of sexual abuse previously. He died last year.
In a statement provided Wednesday, McQuaid's president, the Rev. Philip Judge, did not discuss the specifics of the cases.
"These suits refer to events alleged to have happened over forty years ago," he said. "McQuaid is committed to providing a safe environment for its students and will cooperate fully with any legal proceedings to ensure justice and healing for victims."
Officials at the Jesuit provincial office in New York City did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The lawsuits were filed in state Supreme Court in Monroe County under the auspices of the state Child Victims Act.
The act, signed into law in early 2019, opened a brief window in time during which people who believe they were the victims of sexual abuse as children to bring suit against their abuser, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. That window of opportunity currently is set to close in January 2021, though legislation sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo would extend the deadline to August 2021.
The two cases filed Monday against McQuaid and the Jesuit religious order were brought by Minnesota lawyer Jeffrey Anderson, who is prominent in child sexual abuse litigation.
Anderson's firm filed 14 suits in all Monday against the Jesuit order and various affiliates. Two other Jesuit priests with ties to McQuaid were accused in that wave of suits.
The Rev. John L. Farrand, who taught at McQuaid in the 1950s, was accused of sexually abusing a student at Loyola high school in New York City 20 years later. The Rev. Robert Voelkle, who was at McQuaid for most of the 1960s, was accused of sexually abusing a student at Regis high school in New York in 1976.
Both Farrand and Voelkle are deceased.
A Jesuit priest who grew up in Rochester, the Rev. Peter Conroy, also was named in the Anderson lawsuits. He was accused of sexually abusing minors in New York City, Buffalo and Syracuse in the 1970s
It was not immediately clear if the lawsuits involved accusations that have been publicly aired by female relatives of Conroy.
Contact watchdog reporter Steve Orr at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (585) 258-2386. Follow him on Twitter at @SOrr1. This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. If you don't already have a digital subscription, please sign up today.