Retired Priest Dies Months After Sexual Abuse Allegations Surface - NBC Chicago

Retired Priest Dies Months After Sexual Abuse Allegations Surface

Father John Smyth was in charge of Maryville Academy in suburban Des Plaines for over 30 years

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    Retired Priest Dies Months After Sexual Abuse Allegations Surface

    A retired Chicago priest died Tuesday, months after he was asked to step aside from the ministry over allegations of sexual abuse.

    Father John P. Smyth, who was the superintendent of the Maryville Academy in suburban Des Plaines for over 30 years, died on Tuesday night, the school's director Sister Catherine Ryan, said early Wednesday.

    Further information about his death was not immediately available.

    In January, Smyth was accused of sexual abuse while he was in charge of Maryville, with the accusations dating back to 2002 and 2003, the Archdiocese of Chicago said in a statement at the time.

    He was asked to reside away from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe grounds while the allegations were being 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.

    Smyth was head 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.

    Smyth also served as president of Notre Dame College Prep, located in Niles, from 2007 until 2014, when he told the Chicago Tribune 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.

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