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Child Exploitation
10/24/2008

Former Catholic priest found guilty of sexually abusing minors

CHICAGO - A defrocked Catholic priest was found guilty by a federal jury here Friday on two counts of sexually molesting a minor boy who lived periodically with him in Evanston, Ill., and accompanied him on interstate and international religious retreats. This guilty verdict 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 convicted of 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 last February.

During the three-week trial, 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. 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.

"Sexually exploiting children is despicable," said Gary Hartwig, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "ICE will go the extra mile to catch those individuals who prey on these innocent victims. Identifying and investigating those who victimize children - especially those who hold positions of public trust as in the case of Mr. McGuire - is one of the most important responsibilities ICE has."

Under current federal law, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor extends during the life of the victim.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie B. Ruder and April M. Perry, Northern District of Illinois, successfully prosecuted this case.

McGuire faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer scheduled sentencing for Dec. 18.

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 11,500 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http:/www.cybertipline.com.