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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Robert Wild, Jesuit Implicated in Pedophilia Scandal, Raises $43 Million for Marquette

Posted By on Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Donald McGuire with one of his alleged victims
  • Donald McGuire with one of his alleged victims

Marquette University has managed to raise $43 million for its retiring president, Jesuit priest Robert Wild, despite his involvement in his order's controversial handling of one of the most notorious child predators in the history of the Catholic clergy.

That predator is defrocked Jesuit Donald McGuire, a twice-convicted child molester who ministered extensively to families in the Bay Area. As SF Weekly reported in a cover story last month, McGuire's Jesuit superiors were notified many times over the priest's four-decade career of his inappropriate relationships with teenage boys, but did little or nothing to rein him in.

Wild was alerted in 1991 that McGuire had a suspicious relationship with a young boy by a church official in Napa County. Brother Ricardo Palacio reported that he had surprised McGuire in his bedroom, after hearing giggling from behind a closed door, and found him with a boy who had tousled hair and an untucked shirt. The boy, who was from Alaska, was traveling with McGuire as his personal assistant.

Wild noted in a memo at the time that the incident was "at least very imprudent, perhaps much more serious." However, rather than investigate what had happened, he issued guidelines to McGuire that he not travel alone with under-18s. Those guidelines were never enforced. McGuire would go on to molest several boys over the next 15 years, in the Bay Area and elsewhere, until his first criminal conviction in Wisconsin in 2006.

After recent documents revealing Wild's handling of McGuire were released as part of a lawsuit, some activists criticized Wild -- who has not commented publicly on the scandal -- for not taking a more serious stance toward the 1991 incident. Such criticisms don't seem to have impeded his fundraising prowess. Last week, Marquette University officials announced at a retirement party for Wild that $43 million, most of it for endowed scholarships, had been raised to honor the Jesuit.

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Peter Jamison


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