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Peoria Diocese Ignored Red Flags In Epiphany Priest Abuse Case

Tue, 13 Aug 2013 14:09:22 CDT
By: Charlie Schlenker

A member of a group advocating for people molested by clergy says she hopes a huge legal settlement from a case in Normal sends a message to other victims that they should come forward. The Diocese of Peoria is paying more than $1.3 million to settle a civil case brought by former Epiphany Church Altar Boy Andrew Ward. Ward claims Monsignor Thomas Maloney sexually assaulted him in the mid 1990s. Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP says former Peoria Bishop John Myers blew it.

"Bishop Myers had information that he failed to turn over to police and it appears that had police had the additional information, it's likely they would have brought charges against Monsignor Maloney."

Maloney died several years ago. He served at parishes in Lexington, Chenoa, and East Peoria in addition to Normal and as Chaplain of Bloomington Central Catholic High School. A deposition for the lawsuit released under terms of the settlement shows Maloney was eventually accused of sexual misconduct by five alleged victims.

Police didn't believe him because they didn't have all the information and Catholic church officials kept kind of indicating to police that Andrew was the only victim when that was not true."

Church records also indicate Diocese officials turned a blind eye to such questionable activities as taking eighth grade girls to lunch at a restaurant called "The Pub," and a late night trip to Walgreens with a young girl to buy her candy. Maloney was also accused of relating anecdotes about the sexual conduct of another priest to an adolescent confirmand in the confessional. One letter Myers wrote to parents who had complained about Maloney's conduct indicated there had never been allegations of impropriety against Maloney, something that was false even at the time. Myers said under oath that he was not aware of the reports fielded by his subordinates.

Bishop Myers has gone on to become Archbishop of Newark. He is also under fire there for his handling of allegations against priests. Barbara Blaine says the case sends a message to central Illinois parishioners and parents.

"They can't really trust what the church officials are saying and that they should be on their guard to protect, to watch the children and to keep them safe."

"I am hoping that others who have been hurt will safe to come forward and speak up and get the help that they need."

The Diocese of Peoria says it declines to discuss such cases. A statement from the Chancery says the settlement does not come from Diocesan or Parish assets, but from insurance coverage. See the 200 page deposition and accompanying documents .

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