Diocese Settles Abuse Case for $1.35m

Peoria Journal-Star
August 13, 2013

Archbishop John J. Myers stands outside Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, in Newark, N.J. Hundreds of parishioners and clergy members packed the church to mark the 25th anniversary of Bishop John Myers' episcopal consecration.


The Catholic Diocese of Peoria will pay $1.35 million to settle a case of sexual abuse that took place when Newark Archbishop John J. Myers was in charge, a former altar boy’s lawyer said Monday.

The former altar boy accuses the late Monsignor Thomas Maloney of abusing him at Epiphany Catholic Church in Normal in the mid-1990s. His lawsuit accuses Myers, then the bishop of the 26-county diocese, of failing to take action against Maloney, who died in 2009.

The former altar boy says he was 8 years old when the abuse took place. His attorney, Jeff Anderson, accuses Myers of failing to protect children in Peoria, where he was bishop from 1990 to 2001, when he moved to Newark.

Anderson said the case against the diocese was settled Friday. The diocese and its attorney Joseph Feehan did not immediately return messages left after hours Monday. In an emailed statement Monday night, diocese Chancellor and general counsel Patricia M. Gibson said, “It is the standard policy of the Diocese of Peoria not to discuss details of any specific settlement out of respect for the confidentiality of those involved in a legal case. Any funds used for settlements do not come from diocesan or parish assets, but are paid through insurance coverages available to the diocese.”

Anderson said that on Tuesday he will release a 2010 deposition of Myers being questioned about the case. A spokesman for Myers did not immediately return a request for comment.

The lawsuit also contends two women reported Maloney had abused them but no action was taken. In 2008, a state’s attorney found there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against him.

In Newark, Myers has been under fire for his handling of the case of the Rev. Michael Fugee, who authorities charged in June after he violated the terms of an agreement with a prosecutor’s office.

Fugee confessed to police that he grabbed a boy’s crotch and was convicted of aggravated sexual assault in 2003. Fugee’s lawyers said the confession was coerced.

The conviction was thrown out after courts revised jury instructions related to a procedural aspect of the case. Rather than retrying Fugee, prosecutors and the archdiocese agreed to allow Fugee to return to ministry but not have unsupervised contact with or oversee minors.

Fugee flouted the agreement and became a fixture at a youth group in Colt’s Neck. The archdiocese said it didn’t know until it was reported in the press. Fugee resigned in June.


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