D.A. Clears Malvern Prep Priest of Sex-Abuse Accusations

By Kathleen Brady Shea
Philadelphia Inquirer
August 30, 2003

No evidence could be found to substantiate sex-abuse accusations against the Rev. John Liggio, a priest from Malvern Preparatory School, by a former student, the Chester County District Attorney's Office announced yesterday.

"Investigators were unable to corroborate in any way the allegations made by the former student against the priest," according to a news release from District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll.

James H. Stewart, Malvern's head of school, responded to the news with a prepared statement:

"We are delighted to hear that the D.A.'s Office has decided not to press charges against Father Liggio," he said.

John J. Duffy, one of Liggio's attorneys, said he was not surprised by the news.

"John Rogers Carroll and I, cocounsel for Father Liggio, have been in constant contact with the District Attorney's Office and have been awaiting this announcement for several weeks," Duffy said. "We never had any doubt about the outcome."

The eight-month investigation began after the school received a letter and then met with a 20-year-old former student, who said he had been sexually abused by Liggio five or six times in 1997 and 1998 when he was 15. He also said Liggio described sexual encounters with other students.

The school then contacted police, who conducted interviews with Liggio, school officials, and all of the accuser's former classmates.

"He never mentioned the abuse to anyone prior to contacting the school in [November] 2002, and there is no documentary, physical or witness evidence to support the statement of the former student," Carroll wrote. "As a result, the commonwealth has insufficient evidence to justify the filing of criminal charges in this matter."

Duffy said he was gratified that the investigation had been conducted in such a professional manner.

"It was fair and thorough to all parties concerned," he said.

When the investigation began, officials at Malvern Prep, a private Catholic school for boys in grades six through 12, said Liggio would take a temporary leave of absence in accordance with school policy. School officials had no comment yesterday about his status.

Liggio taught theology at the school, a 103-acre campus founded by Augustinian priests in 1842, according to the school's Web site.


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