Former head of Maryville Academy investigated for sexual abuse allegations

Cardinal Blase Cupich has asked Father John P. Smyth, a prominent priest who spent his career working with at-risk children, to step aside from ministry after the Archdiocese received and began investigating "allegations of sexual abuse of minors," the I-Team has learned.

Smyth served as the superintendent of Maryville Academy for 30 years before becoming president of Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, where he served from 2007 until 2014. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in April 1962. A former All-American basketball player, he was the captain of the Notre Dame University team in his senior year. Despite being drafted by the NBA, he turned down a professional basketball career to enter the seminary instead.

"These allegations pertain to the 2002-2003 time period while Fr. Smyth was assigned to Maryville Academy in Des Plaines" and involve more than one person, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Archdiocesan officials say they reported the allegations to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State's Attorney.

Smyth is now retired and has been asked to leave the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where he had been living while the allegations are investigated.

A request for comment from Maryville Academy was not immediately returned.

"The pain of abuse never goes away, it's still there," said Larry Antonsen who works with SNAP representing abuse victims. "Not a day goes by that it doesn't come into my mind."

Attorney Marc Pearlman said he received a call 15 years ago from a young man who claimed to be a victim of abuse at Maryville. The claim was never substantiated, but Pearlman said it didn't surprise him.

"Many times these perpetrators are the most well-known, the most powerful, because these are the ones that get away with it," he said.
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