First Lawsuit Filed Against Fr. John Smyth in Chicago

The first child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit has been filed against a high-profile Chicago priest who had access to thousands of already-vulnerable children.


Fr. John P. Smyth headed a residential treatment facility called Maryville Academy in Des Plaines from 1970-2003. He was removed in 2003 after a resident's suicide and allegations of abuse surfaced. From 2007-2014, The priest was president of Notre Dame College Prep in Niles 2007-2014. He was removed from ministry in January 2019 when allegations against him were reported to the Archdiocese of Chicago. Today he is being sued for reportedly molesting a child. We hope this development will spur others who may have information or suspicions about him to step forward.

In March, we included Fr. Smythe on our list of the 12 more potentially dangerous Chicago accused clerics. We considered him dangerous because he was clearly well spoken, able to win people’s trust and confidence, and had access to hundreds or thousands of already-vulnerable children, who are less likely to report if they are victimized by a powerful authority figure.

It is always hard to report abuse. It ieven harder when the accused is a priest, and it is especially hard when that priest is powerful and popular. So we are very grateful to every person who is playing a role in this case and bringing critical information to light. We hope their courage will inspire others to speak up, too.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant