CHICAGO - A defrocked Catholic priest who once served as a spiritual advisor to Mother Teresa was sentenced here Wednesday to 25 years in federal prison for sexually molesting a boy on several interstate and international religious retreats. This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
Donald J. McGuire, 78, from Chicago, was sentenced Feb 11 by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer to 300 months in prison. Judge Pallmeyer stated in court that she exceeded the federal sentencing guidelines to send a message to those who think they can abuse their positions of power in the community. "I want any such person to know the system of justice, and this judge personally, finds it absolutely abhorrent," Judge Pallmeyer said of McGuire's misconduct. She added that McGuire had committed a horrific and monstrous crime and a very serious sin.
Numerous victims and their families were present in court and described how McGuire's abuse had robbed them of their innocence and ruined their lives. Some victims described suffering years of depression as a result of the abuse, while others confronted McGuire and demanded an apology for abusing his position of authority.
McGuire was convicted in October by a federal jury on one count of traveling to Switzerland and Austria in December 2000 to engage in sexual activity with a minor, and one count of traveling to Buffalo, Minn., in August 2001 for the same purpose with the same victim. McGuire, a former spiritual advisor to Mother Teresa, was ordained in 1961 and was affiliated with the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) until he was defrocked from the priesthood last February.
During the three-week trial last fall, five men testified that the former Jesuit priest had exploited and molested them when they were teenagers as they traveled with him on religious retreats.
According to court documents, between the mid-1990s and 2003, McGuire's primary residence was at Canisius House, a Jesuit priest community in Evanston, Ill. Since at least 1991, McGuire has had a number of restrictions placed on him concerning interaction with minors. According to multiple witnesses, however, McGuire continued to travel alone with boys in their teens and early 20s throughout the 1990s and through 2003, and sexually molested males during this time, including the victim ("Dominick") who was 14 years old at the time he accompanied McGuire on a retreat to Switzerland and Austria in December 2000.
Dominick testified in court that McGuire sexually molested him between 1999 and the fall of 2003, and that he was 13 years old when the sexual abuse began. He also testified that he accompanied McGuire on numerous interstate and overseas trips, and that McGuire sexually abused him on nearly all the trips. According to Dominick, the sexual abuse ended when the Jesuits ordered McGuire to move from Canisius House to another residence in Chicago.
"For a priest to abuse his position of trust in the community against innocent children is despicable," said Gary Hartwig, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation. Today's sentence shows that ICE will go the extra mile to protect the innocence of the most vulnerable segment of our society - our kids."
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie B. Ruder and April M. Perry, Northern District of Illinois, successfully prosecuted this case.
McGuire's investigation and arrest are part of Operation Predator, a national ICE initiative that protects children by investigating and presenting for prosecution pedophiles, Internet predators, human traffickers, international sex tourists, and other predatory criminals. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 child predators and sex offenders nationwide, including more than 600 in Illinois.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. Investigators staff this hotline around the clock.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.