Editor’s Note: This article contains mentions of sexual abuse.
Rev. William J. O’Malley, former adjunct professor in the School of Professional and Continuing Studies, theology professor at Fordham Preparatory School and one-time actor in the 1973 film “The Exorcist” was removed from Murray-Weigel Hall after he was accused of sexual abuse against a minor.
He began teaching at Fordham Prep in the 1986–1987 school year, one year after the alleged abuse at McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester took place, according to Rolling Stone. O’Malley was eventually let go from Fordham Prep after Prep’s then-president, Father Kenneth Boller said his teaching style was abrasive.
Fordham’s history with “The Exorcist” carries further than the priest that made the story famous. Sections of the film adaptation were filmed in Keating Hall according to previous reporting by The Ram.
Bob Howe, director of communications for the university, said O’Malley’s case is consistent with an agreement made between the university and the Jesuit USA Northeast Province last school year.
“[T]he province agreed at the university’s insistence earlier this year to the immediate removal of residents against whom credible allegations are made,” Howe said. “That was the case with Father O’Malley.”
Howe also restated that the university does not have control over Murray-Weigel Hall and does not have a regular flow of information concerning its tenants.
The university did not respond to questions about whether O’Malley had student volunteers visiting him at Murray-Weigel.
As of Aug. 26, 2019, Michael Gabriele, director of communications for the Northeast Province, said O’Malley was removed from Murray-Weigel following the allegation and there are currently no Jesuits at Murray-Weigel with a known allegation.
According to Gabriele, O’Malley was accused in a civil suit that the Jesuits were made aware of in mid-August.
“We have no details concerning this allegation, and no earlier accusations have been made to the province regarding O’Malley,” Gabriele said. “This accusation cannot be found credible until after the investigation, which cannot be fully completed until the suit is settled. Until that time, an accused cleric is removed from ministry.”
With the addition of O’Malley, the Ram has tracked 11 priests who have lived at Murray-Weigel with credible accusations of sexual misconduct of a minor brought against them.
This is one of several allegations brought to the surface since the passage of the Child Victims Act in New York which extends the statute of limitations for adult survivors of child sexual abuse and allows sexual abuse victims of any age to seek legal action.
Since the act went into effect on Aug. 14, the majority of filings under it named Catholic priests as abusers and sought damages from the diocese and parishes where the abuse allegedly occurred, according to USA Today.
According to Howe, the university’s message remains the same.
“Fordham has absolutely no tolerance for sexual misconduct of any kind and will continue to take all actions necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and others in our community,” Howe said.
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