Priest Gets 7 Years for Abuse
20 Years' Probation Begins Now While Conviction Appealed
By Courtney Flynn
July 19, 2006
Elkhorn, Wis. -- A Chicago Jesuit priest convicted in February of molesting two Loyola Academy students in Wisconsin in the 1960s was sentenced Tuesday to 7 years in prison and 20 years of probation.
But Rev. Donald McGuire's prison sentence was postponed until he finishes appealing the verdict. The probation begins immediately.
Walworth County, Wis., Judge James Carlson also ordered McGuire, 76, to register as a sex offender, stay confined to his Jesuit home in Waukegan and have no contact with minors or the two men he was convicted of molesting.
McGuire did not show any emotion at the sentencing and declined to comment after the hearing, but he spoke in court about his innocence, his dedication to the priesthood and his twice-daily examination of the truth of his life.
"Your Honor, you are looking at an innocent man, innocent of the heinous crimes of which I was accused," said McGuire, who came to court in a wheelchair.
But in weighing sentencing options Tuesday, Carlson said anything less than prison would depreciate the serious nature of the offenses of which McGuire was convicted.
Earlier this year, a jury found McGuire guilty of five counts of indecent behavior with a child, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years for each count.
The two men, who live out of state, alleged that McGuire molested them at a house in Fontana, Wis., when they were students and he was a teacher at Loyola Academy in Wilmette. They described abuse that happened during retreats in the Lake Geneva area in the late 1960s. They also said McGuire repeatedly molested them when they lived with him in his room at Loyola.
Prosecutors chose to try the case in Wisconsin because McGuire was not protected by its statute of limitations.
On Tuesday, Walworth District Atty. Phil Koss acknowledged the good McGuire has done but said his offenses were "incredibly grave."
Both of McGuire's accusers and four of his supporters gave statements to the judge.
"I would like to see a sentence that promotes healing instead of seeking retribution," said Victor Bender, one of the victims, who added that McGuire was a "danger to society and should be in prison."
The other victim said McGuire has shown no remorse and also asked that he be sent to prison.
The Tribune does not name sexual assault victims unless they choose to be identified. Bender asked to be identified, but the other man has not.
Cheryl Ward-Kaiser, who said McGuire has been her retreat master for nearly 20 years, told the judge of the friendship and counseling McGuire has given her in troubling times.
"We are sitting in the presence of a saint," she said.
Rev. Raymond Courtright, a North Dakota priest who said he has known McGuire since he was a boy in 1973, spoke of McGuire's modesty and said he never saw him do anything unseemly. He said McGuire was a driving force in his decision to join the priesthood.
"I hate to think of what my life would have been like if I'd never met father," he said.
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