Insufficient Evidence to File Criminal Charges against Retired Priest

By Edith Brady-Lunny
June 12, 2008

NORMAL — The McLean County state's attorney's office found insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against a retired local priest accused in a civil lawsuit this week of molesting a former second-grader at Epiphany Grade School.

The civil lawsuit naming the diocese and retired Msgr. Thomas Maloney was filed Wednesday in Peoria by Andrew Ward, a 20-year-old Michigan man who attended the school in Normal. Ward has accused Maloney of molesting him when he was 8 years old, between 1995 and 1996, in the church sanctuary.

The allegations involving Maloney were investigated by the Normal Police Department after the Ward family filed a report in January 2007. Assistant Police Chief Kirk Ijams confirmed Thursday that investigators interviewed two individuals who were alleged victims of molestation by Maloney.

After reviewing the police reports, the office of McLean County State's Attorney Bill Yoder decided against filing criminal charges.

"Based on the investigation conducted by the Normal Police Department, we did not feel there was sufficient evidence to sustain a charge in this case," Yoder said.

The prosecutor said the investigation could be reopened if new information develops.

Diocesan officials had no comment on the lawsuit Thursday.

"We have not had the chance to review the lawsuit," Patricia Gibson, Diocese of Peoria chancellor, said Thursday morning.

Maloney served at Epiphany from 1973 to 1976 and again from 1995 until his retirement in 2002.

Jeff Anderson, Ward's attorney, said Thursday that his client has taken and passed a polygraph test related to the allegations involving Maloney.

The lawsuit contends that a second alleged victim complained to the diocese about Maloney in 1994 when now-Archbishop John Myers was bishop of Peoria and again in 2002 after the Rev. Daniel Jenky took over as bishop. The woman, who is not named in the lawsuit, has agreed to testify as a witness in Ward's case, Anderson said.

Anderson, who has been involved in about 2,000 sexual abuse cases involving priests, said while many dioceses are willing to settle abuse claims, the Peoria Diocese is known for its tough stance in handling abuse claims against its priests.

"Every diocese has different strategies. Peoria is known as hardball players," Anderson said.


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