‘Additional information’ surfaces about recently reinstated priest accused of sexually abusing minors

Chicago Tribune

September 16, 2021

By Rosemary Sobol

A recently reinstated Lake Zurich priest who was accused of sexually abusing minors 25 years ago while he was assigned to Maryville Academy in Des Plaines is again sidelined after “additional information” has come to light, the Archdiocese of Chicago said.

The Rev. David Ryan was expected to return to the Roman Catholic parish this weekend, but the new information caused a delay in Ryan’s return “while it is thoroughly investigated,” according to a letter from Cardinal Blase Cupich that was released Thursday.

“Father Ryan has assured us that he will cooperate fully as he understands that we must take every allegation seriously in accordance with our child protection policies,” the letter said.

Cupich added in the letter that he shared the disappointment at the news, “especially” since Ryan was to come back this weekend.

“But, I ask your patience once again as we fulfill our obligation to keep the children entrusted to us safe and proceed in a way that serves the cause of justice for all concerned.”

Last week, Cupich said that the Independent Review Board found there was insufficient reason to suspect Ryan had committed sexual abuse of a minor, and that he was being reinstated as the pastor, effective immediately.

In November 2020, the Archdiocese of Chicago said it was investigating the allegations and Ryan, pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich, was asked to live away from the parish during the investigation and “is fully cooperating with this directive.”

In a letter to the parish back then, Cupich wrote that he asked Ryan to “step away from ministry” after the archdiocese was first notified of the allegations, which were reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state’s attorney office.

Ryan, who was ordained in Springfield in 1979, began working at Maryville in 1985 and was promoted to acting executive director in 2003, according to theLake Zurich church’s website. Ryan previously served at a parish in Godfrey and as director for the Catholic Children’s Home in Alton.

He worked alongside the Rev. John P. Smyth, Maryville’s executive director, for 20 years, long before Smyth came under scrutiny in 2019 for similar allegations at the home for troubled children.

Smyth died in April 2019. A lawsuit was filed against the archdiocese after Smyth’s death, but the Des Plaines Police Department said it did not find any “credible” evidence against him.

Ryan also serves on the Board of Governors for the City Club of Chicago, according to its website.

Rosemary Sobol is an editor and reporter for the Tribune’s Crime & Justice desk. Previously, she covered crime and breaking news at the Sun-Times and the City News Bureau of Chicago. An alumna of Loyola University of Chicago, Rose is a music lover and runner.