Molestation Trial Begins for Chicago-area Priest

By Carla K. Johnson
The Daily News

October 10, 2008

CHICAGO - A defrocked Jesuit priest led a double life, revered worldwide as a leader of spiritual retreats while also molesting a young boy behind closed doors, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

"In certain circles, ladies and gentlemen, he was famous," Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Ruder told a jury during her opening statement on the first day of the federal criminal trial of Donald McGuire.

Sometimes accompanied by his 13-year-old victim, McGuire traveled the world holding spiritual retreats, Ruder said, and he portrayed himself as having been a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

"The defendant used that esteem to pry children from their parents," Ruder said.

McGuire, 78, of Oak Lawn, has pleaded not guilty to charges of traveling outside the U.S. and across state lines to have sex with a teenager between 2000 and 2003.

McGuire sat in a wheelchair in court, his face expressionless, his eyes nearly closed. He suffers from diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Defense attorney Stephen Komie declined to make an opening statement, but later tried to raise doubts about the government's first witness, a former teenage caretaker to McGuire, who testified the priest demanded daily nude massages and asked him to describe photos in pornographic magazines.

The now 28-year-old witness, identified in court only by his first name because he claims to be the victim of sexual assault, said he served as McGuire's assistant for more than a year when he was 17 and 18.

The witness said he lived with the priest in Evanston and traveled with him on as many as 25 spiritual retreats. He testified that McGuire required a nude massage every night and on many mornings, instructing the young man to massage his buttocks, inner thighs and scrotum with oil.

During cross-examination, Komie asked the witness about a civil lawsuit he filed in April against McGuire and the Jesuits claiming $300,000 in damages for sexual assault, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.

Komie asked the witness whether he was 18, "an adult," during an Alaska vacation when the witness testified that McGuire first told him to touch his genitals. The witness agreed he had been an adult.

Komie also got the witness to agree he never saw McGuire have an erection and that McGuire never touched the witness in what he perceived as "a sexual manner."

In 2006, McGuire was convicted in Wisconsin for child molestation and sentenced to seven years in prison. He has appealed that conviction. McGuire has also been indicted in Arizona for child molestation and he faces lawsuits on a string of new child molestation accusations.

The Vatican ordered McGuire out of the priesthood earlier this year.


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