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Supreme Court upholds McGuire conviction

July 28, 2010 | 08:36 AM
Madison — Former Jesuit priest Donald McGuire's conviction for molesting teenage boys in a Fontana cabin in the 1960s has been upheld by the state's Supreme Court.

In 2006, a Walworth County Jury convicted McGuire, 80, of five counts of indecent behavior with a child. McGuire appealed the conviction challenging the constitutionality of how the statute of limitations were applied to him.

Under Wisconsin State law at the time of the incident, the statute of limitations was six years. However, the court excludes time that McGuire was not a resident in the state. McGuire visited the Fontana cabin and lived in Illinois.

"We also are satisfied that McGuire received a fair trial in which the real controversy was fully tried and justice has not for any reason miscarried," according to the Supreme Court ruling that was written by Justice David Prosser.

McGuire is incarcerated at The United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Mo. He remains a registered sex offender in Wisconsin.

Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss prosecuted the original case against McGuire and said July 14 he was "pleasantly surprised" that the court upheld each issue unanimously.

"I am very grateful the Supreme Court agreed that everything we did in this case was correct," Koss wrote in an e-mail. " It was a tough trial with no physical evidence and would have been difficult to retry. The victims are also relieved this is behind them."

McGuire, a former spiritual adviser to Mother Theresa, is considered one of the most influential figures convicted of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The Vatican has since ordered him out of the priesthood.

In February 2009, McGuire was sentenced to 25 years in a federal prison for taking a boy on a spiritual retreat to have sex with him.

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In federal court, McGuire was convicted of traveling across state lines to have sex with teenage boys between 2000 and 2003.

"McGuire is a dangerous offender who victimized many children over the years, and he needed to be held responsible," Koss said. "The decision also ensures that future victims of devastating crimes can come forward even after a significant time."

The Wisconsin Attorney General's Office argued the case in front of the Supreme Court.

"I'm pleased that McGuire will continue to pay for his betrayal of his victims' trust," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said in a prepared statement. "Make no mistake — my office will fight to give Wisconsin's prosecutors the tools they need to take down those who sexually maltreat children. Those crimes don't simply fade away with the passage of time. We will continue to bring such offenders to justice."

The Walworth County case stems from when McGuire was on the staff of Loyola Academy, Wilmette, Ill, a suburb of Chicago. McGuire worked at Loyola from 1966 to 1970.

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At that time, one of the victims, a then 13-year-old boy, was attending the school.

The boy was struggling in school and McGuire helped tutor him.

Eventually, the boy moved in with McGuire and would sleep in the same bed as him, according to court documents.

Another victim, a then 14-year-old boy, was also tutored by McGuire at Loyola. The boy stayed with McGuire at his residence there.

McGuire instructed the boy to tell his father that he was staying in the guidance office, but in reality he was staying in McGuire's bed, according to court documents.

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