Witness Testifies Loyola Teen Told Him Priest Touched Him

By M. Daniel Gibbard
Chicago Tribune
February 23, 2006,1,3709013.

ELKHORN, Wis. -- A parish priest testified Wednesday that a high school freshman came to him upset about 35 years ago and told him that Rev. Donald McGuire, who is on trial for allegedly molesting two boys, "had done something to him."

Rev. Charles Schlax, a friend of the teenager's family, said the boy, who was attending Loyola Academy in Wilmette, visited him in 1968 or 1969 but did not say exactly what McGuire had done.

The boy was "anxious, nervous, upset," said Schlax, who was then at Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Chicago's North Side and is now at St. Mary Catholic Church in Des Plaines. "He said at first [that] Father McGuire had done something to him."

Schlax testified that he went through a list of every possible problem he could think of without finding out what was wrong.

"Finally, the only thing I could think of was a sexual issue," which the boy confirmed, Schlax said. "He said Father had touched him. That's all I got at the time."

Schlax called Loyola officials, who told him they would handle the situation, he said.

Shortly after that, Schlax said, he received a phone call and then a visit from McGuire.

"He seemed upset," said Schlax, who said his memory was not clear on the events. "Perhaps upset that I had called [Loyola]."

Schlax recalled a meeting at Loyola a month later but could not remember any details. The defense later said he did not mention the meeting in an interview with a police investigator.

That was the last he heard of the matter until police contacted him two years ago, Schlax said.

Prosecutors attempted to show that the boy had talked about the alleged abuse around the time it happened to rebut the defense's contention that the two men are making up the charges to try to win a monetary settlement from the Jesuits order of priests.

McGuire, 75, is accused of molesting the two boys five times between 1966 and 1968 at a vacation home in Wisconsin, where the statute of limitations on the charges does not apply to out-of-state residents.

The accuser about whom Schlax testified does not wish to be named, and the Tribune does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse unless they agree to have their names used. The other man McGuire is accused of molesting, Victor Bender, has consented to the use of his name.

On cross-examination by defense attorney Gerald Boyle, Schlax said the unidentified accuser did not mention sexual abuse but only confirmed that was what happened when Schlax asked him.

Later in the morning, the defense opened its case, calling two witnesses who said they never saw McGuire alone with the unidentified man at McGuire's quarters at Loyola or during retreats in Wisconsin, where the abuse allegedly happened.

Rev. James Arimond, 66, a Jesuit who lived at Loyola at the same time as McGuire, said students were strictly forbidden from being in the priests' living area and he would have stopped anyone he saw.

"You just didn't come in there," Arimond said.

Tyrone Cefalu, 52, of Hoffman Estates said he had known McGuire since age 7 and the priest was a friend of the family. He said he roomed with the unidentified accuser during a retreat in the Lake Geneva area and never saw him gone from the room for any significant time.

Walworth County District Atty. Phil Koss sought to discredit several defense witnesses by emphasizing their close ties to McGuire, including that they tried to recruit others to testify on his behalf.

Also on Wednesday, both sides called doctors who testified about McGuire's distinguishing genital characteristics. The defense has noted that the two men who were allegedly molested did not recall any unusual physical features about McGuire.


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