Bishop Sought Help for Alleged Sex-Abuse Victim

By Dana Clark Felty
Savannah Morning News
November 1, 2007

When they suspected a Jesuit priest of abusing their teenage son, a Georgia couple turned to their own bishop, the Most Rev. J. Kevin Boland, for help.

Boland asked top Jesuit officials in Chicago to address the family's concerns.

The Savannah bishop is among a number of Catholic clergy and families who wrote to the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus - a religious order known as the Jesuits - for more than 30 years, expressing concerns over the Rev. Donald J. McGuire, a Jesuit priest who conducted religious retreats around the world.

The Most Reverend J.Kevin Boland, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Savannah.

The priest, now 77, had three such retreats in the 1990s in central Georgia.

The letters were released to the public for the first time this week by a Chicago attorney representing some alleged victims of McGuire, who was convicted in 2006 in Wisconsin for molesting two boys during retreats in the late 1960s. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 20 years on probation.

A judge has allowed McGuire to remain free and on probation as he appeals the 2006 conviction.

Last week, two Arizona brothers filed a civil lawsuit in Chicago, alleging the priest molested them during confessions between 1988 and 2002 in Arizona and in Chicago. The alleged victims are now 20 and 28 years old.

Chicago attorney Marc J. Pearlman this week provided to the public copies of previously secret Jesuit documents regarding McGuire.

Some of the documents included letters from two Georgia families whose teenage sons worked as "personal servants" to McGuire in the late 1990s. The families' names were redacted in the documents to protect the identities of the alleged victims.

The letters, dated from 2000 to 2003, describe the teens being shown pornography, sharing a bed with McGuire, nudity, psychological abuse, sexual teasing as well as other suspected sexual abuse.

One couple described their son as wishing to continue working with McGuire and denying any wrongdoing by the priest.

In a 2001 letter to the couple, a Jesuit leader - the Rev. Richard H. McGurn - declined to explain to the family how the Catholic order would respond to their complaint, citing McGuire's right to privacy.

"But, we would hope that you would trust us to act appropriately," he stated in the letter.

The couple wrote to Boland in 2000 and in 2003, seeking his help.

Boland responded in a Sept. 24, 2003 letter to the Chicago Jesuits, attesting to the family's credibility and expressing concern for other potential victims.

"They are an excellent family and are obviously very concerned because of the relationship their (name redacted) had over a long period of time with Father McGuire. (Name redacted) has transferred his loyalty from family to Father McGuire," Boland said in the message on official diocesan letterhead. "On a different level, the Diocese of Savannah is also concerned because Father McGuire gave at least three retreats for our potential seminarians at the request of our Vocation Director. By all accounts they were very dynamic and had great impact on those who participated."

Boland's letter did not suggest a specific course of action.

"Anything you can do to be of assistance, particularly for the (name redacted), would be greatly appreciated," he wrote.

On Wednesday, diocesan spokeswoman Barbara King said Boland was flying back from a pilgrimage to Israel and was not available to comment.

Leaders of the national advocacy group called Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests are urging the Diocese of Savannah to use parish bulletins, newspapers, church Web sites and pulpit announcements to inform and warn parishioners about McGuire and to urge anyone with incriminating information to contact police.


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