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Priest will stay out of prison--for now

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Sept. 10, 2007, 1:11 p.m.)

The state attempted to revoke the bond of a convicted sex offender, the Rev. Donald McGuire, Thursday amid recent allegations he sexually molested a boy as recent as 2003.

But District Attorney Phil Koss wasn't "quite there yet," Judge James Carlson ruled.

Koss, who successfully prosecuted McGuire by getting jury to convict him of five nearly 40-year-old counts of indecent behavior with a child, argued that the recent allegations by a now 21-year-old man show McGuire was still a danger to children.

The accuser says McGuire started molesting him in 1999 when the two stayed together at the Canisus House, a Jesuit residence in Evanston, Ill. The molestations continued until 2003 and occurred in six countries and 12 states, including Wisconsin, when the two traveled, according to a civil suit filed by a man identified only as John Doe.

Allegations are not proof enough to send McGuire to prison and start his seven-year sentence, defense attorney Robert Henak said.

McGuire's sentence was stayed and he was put on a condition of house arrest until his appeal was decided. Carlson agreed with the defense that McGuire, 77 and in failing health, was not a danger to society and would receive proper supervision.

"You cannot revoke based on rumor or hearsay and that is all the state has to offer," Henak said.

The decision to let McGuire remain out of prison and living at the home of a friend in a Chicago suburb, didn't sit well with one of his victims from the criminal case.

"I'm disappointed. The streets are still not safe," said the victim, a man in his early 50s who wished not to be identified.

The man was molested by McGuire at a home in Fontana in the late 1960s when he was a student of McGuire's at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Ill. McGuire also molested another boy at the Fontana home.

The criminal charges stood in Wisconsin because the statute of limitations did not expire since McGuire never lived in the state.

The two men, who were in high school at the time, say they were molested thousands of times by McGuire in Illinios, but they are unable to bring criminal charges there.

McGuire, once the confessor to Mother Teresa and spiritual adviser to her Missionaries of Charity, a holy order of nuns, maintains his innocence. He has refused to take lie detector tests and participate in sex offender treatment as part of his probation.

"He is incapable of it," said Mary Lou Mockus, a friend of McGuire's from Evanston, Ill. "It is simply not in his character. His honesty and integrity and conscientiousness are without parallel or question. He insists on his innocence.

"He could have settled and quietly faded into comfortable retirement, yet he refuses, as he says, to cooperate in the sin of false testimony."

Accusers are coming forward because of one thing, supporters say.

"Money," said Chicago's John Gahagan, who has known McGuire for 53 years. "The Catholic Church has a lot of money and the Jesuits have a lot of money."

The victim said money wasn't a thought when he was 16 and reported the molestations to officials at Loyola Academy in 1970 and weren't a consideration when he went through a criminal trial in Walworth County in early 2006.

"This isn't about money. This has nothing to do with money," the man said. "I went through a criminal proceeding here where he was found guilty. There was no money in the criminal proceeding. He was found guilty, and he is guilty, and we know it."

McGuire will have a motion hearing for his appeal attempt on Nov. 1.

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