Real-life priest William O’Malley, who portrayed Father Dyer in the 1973 classic horror film The Exorcist, has been accused of abuse.
In January, New York passed the Child Victims Act providing a one year window where statute of limitations are temporarily suspended so accusers of any age can seek civil prosecution without a time limit.
Last Wednesday was the first day lawyers could submit abuse lawsuits – by noon alone, nearly 400 had been submitted. 35 were submitted against the Diocese of Rochester, one of which included accusations against Father O’Malley.
As a teacher at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester from 1985 to 1986, O’Malley allegedly “used his position as a priest to groom and to sexually abuse plaintiff J.W multiple times during school hours and during school activities.”
The current administration at McQuaid Jesuit commented saying they have no record of any prior abuse accusations towards O’Malley, not aware of them until the lawsuit was filed last week. Likewise, the Jesuits of the USA Northeast Province said they were not aware of any prior allegations either.
The administration at McQuaid Jesuit released a statement in response:
“The New York Child Victims Act went into effect today. McQuaid Jesuit expects to receive claims under this new legislation. McQuaid Jesuit is committed first and foremost to the fraternal care of our alumni who have experienced sexual abuse. It is our sincere hope that this will be a time of healing for our brothers. It has been McQuaid Jesuit’s long-standing policy and practice to immediately report all allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement officials. We therefore will cooperate fully with all civil authorities when addressing claims made under the Child Victims Act. Respecting both the process and those involved, we will not comment on specific claims.”
Bishop Salvatore Matano of the Diocese of Rochester also released a statement:
“I renew my most sincere apology to anyone who was harmed by a cleric or Church personnel who so terribly violated their position of trust and scarred the very lives of those whom they were called to serve. I pray that the victims and all affected by these egregious acts will find healing and hope. Know that Our Lord never abandons us and is always present, especially in times of grave difficulty and suffering…Our diocesan efforts of many years to heal and to restore victims, and to create a safe environment, will continue. We will remain vigilant.”
Father O’Malley, now 87, lives at Fordham University in New York City.