Mother of Alleged Abuse Victim Calls for Archbisop Myers to Be Jailed
By Mark Mueller
August 13, 2013
[Read Archbishop Myers deposition here.]
|Joanne Ward embraces a supporter after the press conference. Attorney Jeff Anderson who represents Andrew Ward, announced a settlement in an abuse case in Diocese of Peoria when Newark Archbishop John Myers was bishop, press conference in Newark across the street from the Basilica on Tuesday August, 13, 2013. Ed Murray/The Star-Ledger|
The mother of a boy allegedly abused by a priest in the Diocese of Peoria called today for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers to be jailed, saying he could have prevented the molestation because he knew of a previous allegation when he served as bishop there.
Joanne Ward, speaking at a press conference outside of the Archdiocesan Center in Newark, said Myers knew in 1994 that Msgr. Thomas Maloney allegedly molested a girl but took no action against Maloney because the two were friends.
|Archbishop John J. Myers, whose deposition in a sexual abuse lawsuit reveals he knew of other cases but did not contact police, celebrating Memorial Day Mass earlier this year|
A year later, Ward said, Maloney allegedly abused Ward’s son, Andrew, then 8, at the church he attended in Normal, Ill.
“Bishop Myers knew Monsignor Maloney was molesting children and allowed him to go into my son’s school, and because of that, my family went through devastation,” said Joanne Ward, 50. “I don’t want the resignation. I want Bishop Myers to go to jail as a predator because he was the one who played the chess game in allowing predators to be placed in our children’s school.”
The press conference was held to announce a $1.35 million settlement in a long-running lawsuit the Ward family brought against the Diocese of Peoria. As part of the settlement, the diocese agreed to the release of Myers’ deposition in the case and other documents.
In the deposition, Myers said he was unaware of the woman’s 1994 claim and that it might have fallen through the cracks because of a “slipshod” filing system in the diocese.
The archbishop also said in the deposition that he did not recall writing a letter to a woman who expressed concerns about Maloney’s behavior with young girls in 2000.
“I do know that Father loves people, especially young people, and that he cares for them generously,” Myers wrote. “We have never had allegations of impropriety.”
The Wards’ lawyer, Jeff Anderson of Minnesota, contends Myers knew much more about Maloney than he has let on and that the two were close friends.
Among the documents released today were letters from Myers to Maloney thanking him for his “generous” gifts, which included cash, silver, gold coins and Maloney’s “much loved camera.”
In 2000, shortly after writing to the woman who expressed concern about Maloney’s behavior with girls, Myers asked Rome to elevate him to a monsignor, a nomination that was approved. Maloney died in 2009 at age 73. At the time, he was a priest in good standing.
Myers served as bishop of Peoria from 1990 to 2001, when he was appointed archbishop of Newark.
Andrew Ward did not attend the press conference. In a statement read aloud by his father, David, he said the alleged abuse was compounded by the diocese’s protection of Maloney.
"The ones that made me the saddest and hurt the most are Archbishop Myers and all those men at the top who continued to protect him instead of help and believe me," he said.
Jim Goodness, a spokesman for Myers, said Monday that the allegation brought by the woman in 1994 was investigated by the Diocese of Peoria and found to be unsubstantiated.
In response to this afternoon's press conference, Goodness added, "The record in Newark has been very clear: The archbishop has consistently reported all allegations to authorities, has provided outreach to victims, and has removed priests."