Priest Convicted of Sexual Abuse

By M. Daniel Gibbard
Chicago Tribune
February 24, 2006,1,7006618.story?coll=chi-newslocalnorthshore-hed

ELKHORN, Wis. -- A jury found Rev. Donald McGuire, a well-known Chicago Jesuit, guilty late Thursday of molesting two teenage Loyola Academy students in Wisconsin in the 1960s.

Walworth County Circuit Judge James Carlson sent the jury of eight men and four women out about 3:30 p.m. They reached a verdict late Thursday in a case that is unusual because it's being tried in a different state than the one where most of the alleged abuse occurred.

McGuire, 75, who now lives in a Jesuit home in Hyde Park, did not take the stand during the weeklong trial.

During closing arguments Thursday, defense attorney Gerald Boyle tried to paint the two accusers as opportunists who were trying to cash in on a civil lawsuit filed in Illinois against the Jesuits.

"They want money," Boyle said repeatedly.

He hammered away at memory lapses and discrepancies in their descriptions of McGuire's room on the Loyola campus in Wilmette.

He also disputed some of the men's claims and questioned how they could have forgotten about distinguishing characteristics of McGuire's body.

The state's case is "full of holes," Boyle said.

Walworth County District Atty. Phil Koss, whose rebuttal of Boyle's closing argument gave him the last word before the jury began deliberating, denied that a civil lawsuit pending in Illinois was the motive for the criminal case.

One of the accusers first informed a parish priest of the allegations in 1969 or 1970, making a conspiracy unlikely, and neither man appeared to have financial problems, Koss said.

"So [they] are going to pick the most humiliating, embarrassing way they can to make money?" he said.

He urged the jury not to let McGuire get away with preying on children.

"As someone who had a lot of power over people who were if not dysfunctional then at least vulnerable, he counted on them never coming forward because of his position in life" as a respected priest, Koss said.

"And that is the horror of sexual assaults of kids," Koss said. "They have no power."

McGuire showed little emotion during testimony but was smiling and talkative during recesses as he chatted with well-wishers who crowded into the courtroom and sat behind the defense table.

The two accusers, meanwhile, sat with a small group of relatives in the first two rows of benches behind the prosecutors. Members of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests also attended to monitor the trial and support them.

McGuire taught at Loyola from 1966 to 1970. He later was spiritual director for Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity.

The two men, who live out of state, alleged that McGuire molested them at a house in Fontana, Wis., during retreats to the Lake Geneva area in 1967 and 1968.

They chose to try the criminal case in Wisconsin because McGuire is not protected by the state's statute of limitations.

They also allege that McGuire repeatedly molested them at a time they said they lived with him in his room on Loyola's campus.

The Tribune does not name alleged victims of sexual assault unless they choose to be identified.

The first man, who did not wish to be identified, came forward in late summer 2003, calling a prominent Minnesota attorney who has won large settlements from the Catholic Church for victims of priest sex abuse.

The attorney referred the man to Marc Pearlman, a Chicago lawyer who has handled similar cases and who alerted Cook County prosecutors. An assistant state's attorney sat in on a meeting, but the state's attorney's office determined it could not press a case in Illinois because of the statute of limitations.

Instead, they recommended the case to Walworth County. Prosecutors charged McGuire with five counts of indecent behavior with a child in February 2005 after an investigation that took more than a year.

The two accusers filed a civil lawsuit against McGuire and the local Jesuit order in 2003 in Cook County.

McGuire was dropped as a defendant after the criminal charges were filed in Wisconsin.

The suit, which is on hold until the criminal trial is finished, accuses the order of failing to inform law enforcement about the complaints.


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