Trial Opens in Priest Sex-Abuse Case

By Josh Noel
Chicago Tribune [Elkhorn WI]
February 18, 2006,1,3679246.story?coll=chi-newslocalssouthwest-hed

ELKHORN, Wis. -- Two graying men looked on Friday as a jury was told that Rev. Donald McGuire, an internationally respected Jesuit priest, molested the two nearly 40 years ago when they were teenagers referred to him for counseling at Wilmette's Loyola Academy.

During opening statements of a trial expected to last a week, Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss said the men were victimized while struggling to fit in at the school, and their families thought they would benefit from a priest's attention.

Though Koss told the jury McGuire molested the men repeatedly while they lived with him in his room on campus, the priest is formally accused only of five instances of abuse in Fontana, a resort community near Lake Geneva, between 1966 and 1968.

McGuire, 75, who nodded off several times in court due to what his lawyer called sleep apnea, has pleaded not guilty. Though the priest had few supporters on hand, his defense indicated that far more backers will turn out when testimony begins Monday.

"On Monday we're going to turn this thing upside down," McGuire said after the proceedings, as he moved slowly to a waiting van with the aid of a cane.

"You'll hear the truth."

Koss told the jury the boys were abused at separate times, both beginning when they were freshmen.

The first alleged victim, a 53-year-old oceanographer from Massachusetts, was molested both at the school and four separate times at his uncle's home in Fontana after McGuire had befriended the boy's family, Koss said.

"His mother thought it was great that this fine Jesuit was taking him under his wing," he told the jury.

The other boy, now 52 and living in Arizona, was first abused at the school in 1968, Koss said. He said the boy once was taken by the priest to Milwaukee for dinner and then to the home in Fontana, where he was molested.

The younger man approached a lawyer in 2003 after reading about McGuire on the Internet, Koss said. Loyola Academy responded to the accusations with a letter to alumni, which led the older alleged victim to also contact the lawyer.

Among his witnesses, Koss said, is a priest who said he reported the allegations to the school after the younger man told him about the abuse in 1969.

In his opening, McGuire's attorney, Gerald P. Boyle, pledged to get to "the truth of the matter" and said no one would testify to seeing either boy in the priest's room.


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