northjersey-com: Testifying about a sexual abuse case that originated when he was the leader of an Illinois diocese, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said a complaint from a woman who said she was abused never came across his desk, and he blamed a “slipshod filing system” and a high-level official who apparently handled the matter on his own.
In a lengthy 2010 deposition, Myers, who was the bishop of the Peoria Diocese for about a decade, said he never suspected that Monsignor Thomas W. Maloney was molesting children. A woman told the diocese’s vicar general in 1995 that the priest abused her as a child. But that official’s office was a block away, and paperwork on priests was sent to several different files, some that he never saw, Myers told lawyers in the deposition.
“There may have been things that got by me,” Myers said. “I underscore the kind of loose system that we had with the two different buildings in Peoria. It could be sometimes two weeks of copies that I would get when they moved them from building to building, and I sometimes didn’t have time to read them all.”
No action was taken against the priest after the woman’s complaint, and months later, an 8-year-old boy, Andrew Ward, allegedly was abused by the same priest, according to his lawsuit against the diocese.
The parents of Ward, who is now 25, announced on Tuesday a $1.35 million settlement with the diocese. Speaking during a news conference outside Myers’ chancery office Tuesday, they blamed the archbishop for not keeping the priest away from their child.
Their attorney, Jeff Anderson, said Myers must have known about the woman’s initial abuse complaint because such a matter would “always to go the top.” Parents Joanne and David Ward called for Myers to be criminally charged, and they accused him at the very least of being a lousy administrator.
“Even if you believe everything Myers has to say, he’s shown such a track record of incompetence it’s amazing the church would not relieve him from his duties,” David Ward said.
The 200-page deposition and other documents, released as part of the settlement, reveal Myers’ approach to sex abuse cases and other church practices during his time in Peoria, from keeping secret files to receiving gifts from his priests. Some records on priests, Myers said, were stored in a special section of a vault known as “the cage” that only he and two top officials could access.
It also was customary for Peoria priests to give their bishop gifts after confirmation ceremonies and during holidays, he said. According to correspondence in the Maloney files, on four occasions during the 1990s, Myers wrote the priest thank-you letters for presents of silver, gold coins, cash and the priest’s prized camera.
“I really do feel a bit squeamish about being the recipient of your much-loved camera,” Myers wrote to Maloney in 1992. “I would be very happy to hand it back and to look for one on my own. As usual, your spontaneous generosity is too much.”