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Monument Gone, But Painful Memories Stay For Those Accusing Father Smyth Of Abuse

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A remarkable discovery about a statue of once beloved Father John Smyth, the longtime leader of Maryville Academy in Des Plaines.

It now symbolizes pain for grown men who accuse Smyth of sexual abuse.

CBS 2 investigator Brad Edwards sat down with the woman representing a dozen accusers and then went to see the statue in person.

Here's a guy that could have gone to the NBA, and potentially could have been a star, yet he decided to take over some run down orphanage in Des Plaines.

"It's a very curious question. Why would you do that unless you were looking for a place to hide," asked attorney Jeanine Stevens.

Father John P. Smyth had a nine-foot-tall monument to his monumental work at Maryville. He died in April to accolades despite his priestly collar being removed from his neck.

There are now more than a dozen allegations of sexual abuse against him. And a constant point of contention for Smyth's accusers and their attorney.

The nine-foot-tall bronze statue on the campus of Maryville Academy. The work is titled "Standing Tall."

"It should be removed," said a man who is going by the name "Matt. "It represents the complete opposite of what I think Marryville was intended to stand for."

"It's like when they took that statue of Saddam Hussein down. Put a rope around it and bring it down," said Sam, another man who said he was victimized by Smyth.

The statue is now gone, but not the monument. Not the memory. And not the now men grown men.

So where is that statue?

Maryville leadership said it didn't know and didn't give anyone the OK to remove it. After days of asking, the archdiocese finally told CBS 2 on Friday it didn't know, and also didn't authorize its removal.

CBS 2 discovered Smyth's Standing Tall Foundation removed it, apparently without permission, for repairs. The foundation vows it will stand tall again.

If that happens, we'll let you know where.


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