A retired Chicago priest has been asked to step aside from the ministry after allegations of sexual abuse were levied against him.
Father John P. Smyth, who was the superintendent of the Maryville Academy in suburban Desplaines for over 30 years, was accused of sexual abuse while he was in charge of that facility. The accusations date back to 2002 and 2003, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Father Smyth will be asked to reside away from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe grounds while the allegations are investigated.
In accordance with policy, the Archdiocese reported the allegations to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney.
Originally an orphanage, the Maryville Academy provides a range of programs for children and adults, including therapeutic residential programs, emergency child care, healthcare for children with complex medical conditions, substance abuse treatment for mothers in recovery, mental health services for adults and children, specialized education, and after school sports and recreation for children, according to an academy spokesperson.
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Father Smyth was in charge of the Academy from 1970 to 2003, but was removed that year after published reports of a resident's suicide and allegations of physical and sexual assault among residents.
Following those allegations, then-Governor Rod Blagojevich cut off state funding and moved the residents elsewhere.
He also served as president of Notre Dame College Prep, located in Niles, from 2007 until 2014.
Smyth told the Chicago Tribune in 2014 that a “difference of opinion” over the role of the school’s executive board led to his decision to step down.
Smyth took a unique route to the priesthood, as he was an All-American basketball player at the University of Notre Dame before choosing the priesthood over a professional basketball career.
The people making accusations against Father Smyth have been offered services from the Archdiocese’s Office of Assistance Ministry, the statement said.