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Let Him Prey: High-Ranking Jesuits Helped Keep Pedophile Priest Hidden 

Wednesday, May 25 2011
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McGuire, according to Daly's memo on the conversation, was "accompanied by some young men, one of whom he was taking showers with and reading hard pornography together. They also masturbated, but McGuire may not have touched the young man." The memo noted, "Joe [Fessio] asked [the lawyer] to keep this quiet until he could represent this to McGuire's provincial."

Charles's father had consulted the attorney along with several other local Catholic men, including Fran Crotty, an administrator at the Kolbe Academy, a private Catholic school in Napa. In a subsequent phone conversation the lawyer, speaking on behalf of this group, told Daly more. According to Charles, McGuire had purchased "explicit pornography, worse than Playboy" and looked at it with the boy "so that [Charles] could learn more about his body." Daly's memo stated that "if no action were begun in a few weeks," Charles's family members "are prepared to go to civil authorities. ... However, they prefer to keep it quiet and allow McGuire to keep his reputation if he goes for help."

McGuire, when confronted by his Jesuit bosses in Chicago, denied or mitigated the allegations. In a manner that would become characteristic of his responses to abuse complaints, he tried to turn attention away from himself and attack his accusers. He called Charles's father "tyrannical" and "unbalanced" and asserted that the boy was "very depressed and deals with his depression through sex," according to Jesuit records.

McGuire acknowledged he was "tolerant" of Charles reading porn, but denied that he had purchased it. No showering together had taken place, he said, although he allowed the boy to wash his foot, which he said was difficult to reach. McGuire said they stayed in the same room, but claimed the door was left open. He protested that he was not violating his 1991 restrictions on traveling with minors because he and Charles were staying at religious residences in the company of other people.

In a May 1993 letter to Brad Schaeffer, head of the Chicago Province, Charles's father revealed further details. McGuire had bought "skimpy sexy briefs" for the boy. He had asked the boy to drive, though he did not yet have a license, and had introduced him to alcohol. Just the past month, Charles's father said, the priest had called from San Francisco demanding that Charles come to the city for 10 days to stay with him. When Charles's parents refused, McGuire flew into a rage, revealing what he said was information the boy had told him in confession. It is unclear from the records what McGuire shared, though Charles's father described it as a "temptation" for which McGuire prescribed urgent spiritual guidance. This alleged violation of the confessional seal was an extremely rare and serious offense for a priest, bringing with it potential excommunication.

In June, Charles's father, dissatisfied with the Jesuits' response, asked that the Chicago Province seek out other possible victims. This request was reiterated in another letter sent by the family's lawyer acquaintance in early July. "We will proceed on our own if we do not feel that there is a permanent resolution," the lawyer wrote, implying a threat of legal action.

In a July memo, Daly recorded another conversation with Charles's father; it was clear that the socius' patience was wearing thin. "Although these folks seem pleasant, they are quite controlling," Daly complained, describing them as "religious legalists." Beyond the interview with McGuire, there is no evidence that the Jesuits sought to independently verify Charles's allegations of sex abuse or identify other victims.

Despite this lassitude, McGuire was directed to get the "help" Charles's family had advocated. Shortly after the original complaint was delivered by Fessio, the Jesuits ordered McGuire to undergo a psychological evaluation and, later, a residential treatment program. Remarkably, McGuire was permitted to perform a retreat in Phoenix in the interim, with the proviso that he tell his superior that a complaint had been filed against him and that he should not be in the presence of minors unsupervised.

Daly and Schaeffer did not return calls for this story. The Chicago Province responded to questions about McGuire with a statement from current Provincial Timothy Kesicki.

"We are painfully aware that in the past we did not do enough to prevent abuse of children and vulnerable adults, and that we made mistakes by thinking that restrictive measures we undertook with regard to Donald McGuire would be effective," Kesicki said in the statement. "More important, we failed to listen to those who came forward and to meet their courage in dealing with Donald McGuire as we should have." Province spokesman Jeremy Langford said Jesuit officials could not address specific questions about McGuire because of the ongoing litigation.


In the summer of 1993, as Charles's family was prodding the Jesuits to perform a full investigation of their complaint, McGuire arrived at Saint John Vianney Center, a psychiatric treatment facility for clergy situated on a green-lawned campus outside Philadelphia. He was promptly diagnosed by his care providers with "frotteurism," a sexual fetish with touching or rubbing one's hands and genitals against a nonconsenting partner, a condition doctors often ascribe to child molesters.

In another of Daly's detailed memos, this one recording the reports of McGuire's psychiatrist, the socius noted, "Don is beginning to disclose more and acknowledge showering together, looking at porno together." McGuire also admitted to his therapist, Dennis O'Hara, that "he has been close to 12-14 youngsters over the years." O'Hara, who no longer works at the center, said in a telephone interview that he did not remember McGuire, and would be unable to discuss his case even if he did, because of patient confidentiality.

About The Author

Peter Jamison

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