NJ Archbishop: I Didn't Know of Abuse Allegations
San Antonio Express-News
August 13, 2013
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said he was unaware of allegations of sexual abuse and inappropriate behavior made against a priest who gave him lavish gifts when they served in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Ill., according to a 2010 deposition.
Myers was bishop of Peoria from 1990 to 2001. He said in the deposition he knew nothing of the allegations against Monsignor Thomas Maloney, then a priest at a parish in Normal, Ill., about 35 miles southeast of Peoria.
The Peoria diocese entered into a $1.35 million settlement last week with former altar boy Andrew Ward, who came forward publicly and claimed he was abused by Maloney in the mid-1990s, when he was 8. The deposition was released as part of the settlement, which was formally announced Tuesday in Newark.
Myers "made a series of choices to do two things," said Ward's attorney, Jeff Anderson. "Protect the offending priests and the reputation of the diocese."
In the deposition, Myers said he didn't know concerns were raised about Maloney, who died in 2009.
Myers said he never saw correspondence stating that a woman called the diocese in 1995, claiming Maloney sexually abused her sister in the 1970s. He also said he never saw a 1996 letter stating Maloney was hugging and kissing altar boys and girls.
Myers said he wasn't alerted to the allegations by subordinates and never saw the documents despite reviewing Maloney's file when suggesting to the Vatican he be promoted from a priest to a monsignor in 2000. Myers left for Newark the following year.
In 2008, an Illinois state's attorney found there was insufficient evidence to charge Maloney with a crime.
In the deposition, Myers said Maloney gave him gifts including rare coins, silver, cash and his "much loved" camera, which Myers wrote in a letter to Maloney he felt "a bit squeamish" about taking. Myers said priests often gave bishops gifts or money.
Myers said throughout the deposition that the diocese had a slapdash filing system and he worked in an office separate from where personnel records were kept.
"Because of the perhaps slipshod filing system that we had between the two different buildings of the office of the bishop, there may have been things that got by me," Myers said. "But I did not have any suspicions."
Myers said he was alarmed by the allegations and if he had learned of them he would have called for an investigation.
"I am committed publicly and profoundly to the safety of children," he said.
The Diocese of Peoria and the Archdiocese of Newark said they do not comment on settlements.
In Newark, Myers has been under fire for his handling of the Rev. Michael Fugee, who was charged with violating an agreement between the diocese and the Bergen County prosecutor's office.
In 2003, Fugee was convicted of aggravated sexual assault after confessing to police he grabbed a boy's crotch.
The conviction was thrown out after courts revised jury instructions. Rather than retry Fugee, prosecutors and the archdiocese allowed Fugee to return to ministry but barred him from having unsupervised contact with minors.
Fugee flouted the agreement and became a fixture at a youth group. The archdiocese said it didn't know until it was reported in the press. Fugee resigned in June.