Former priest convicted of sexual abuse

October 25, 2008 1:57:43 PM PDT
Donald McGuire was convicted Friday on federal charges of taking a boy across state lines and sexually abusing the youth. A jury deliberated for less than three hours before reaching a verdict in the case. The former Roman Catholic priest has already been convicted of molesting young boys in Wisconsin.

After the verdict was read, the 78-year old McGuire told the court he was very disappointed with the jury's decision. He faces a maximum of 30 years when he's sentenced in December.

Prosecutors say he lived a double life, one, where he was a spiritual advisor to Mother Theresa as well as a sexual predator targeting boys as young as nine.

"He held himself out on one hand as a holy priest and he used that trust people had in him to gain access to their children," said Julie Ruder, Assistant US attorney.

Ruder is one of the assistant US attorneys who prosecuted Donald McGuire, a defrocked Jesuit priest, on trial for taking a boy on religious retreats to have sex with him. That boy is now 21 and testified in court, along with 4 other men who said that McGuire molested them when they were teenagers.

"It was a sequence of events of grooming them and using that special position of power that made parents trust him and made these boys trust him," said Rudder.

Investigators say since 1991, McGuire had restrictions placed on him concerning interaction with minors but witnesses say he continued to travel with teenaged boys until five years ago taking them to religious retreats out of state and out of the country.

McGuire was convicted of child molestation in Wisconsin in 2006 and sentenced to seven years.

As for Friday's conviction by a federal jury, McGuire released the following statement through his attorney:

"I am very disappointed in the verdict. I was hoping for a better outcome and exoneration...I plan to appeal this injustice."

McGuire's attorney argued that a couple of the plaintiff's filed civil suits with lawyers before contacting law enforcement.

"The people who appeared in court have a financial interest in the outcome and are looking to score large verdicts or settlements with the Jesuits," said Stephen Komie McGuire's attorney.

"This case was not about money. It's absolutely false. And the accusations and attacks made against the victims were simply offensive," said Rudder.

McGuire has also been indicted in Arizona for child molestation and will be tried there after he's been sentenced in Chicago in December.

Donald McGuire was convicted after jurors deliberated less than three hours Thursday and Friday over evidence in the 2 1/2-week trial.

The white-haired former priest sat stoically in his wheelchair as U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer read the verdict that could result in a 30-year sentence.

"I continue to pray for the spiritual well being of all involved in the case and put myself in the hands of the Lord -- he is my salvation and hope," McGuire said in a statement dictated to Komie in the lockup after court.

The key testimony was provided by a boy known in court only as Dominick who said that McGuire had repeatedly molested him.

But several other boys took the stand and said McGuire had engaged in sexual conduct with them as well.

Komie told jurors in his closing argument that Dominick and the other boys were lying because they wanted to collect civil damages from the church.

After the verdict, prosecutors were sharply critical of that claim.

"The attempt to smear him (Dominick) and challenge his truthfulness was itself outrageous -- it was shameful," Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie B. Ruder told reporters.

Ruder said that the greatest challenge of the case was to "help these victims present what had happened to them in a way that they felt comfortable with."

"They are the heroes of this case," she said.

Prosecutors said that McGuire had been molesting boys for many years.


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