Priest gets bail in abuse charges
Jesuit given home confinement over prosecutors' pleas
By Jeff Coen and Manya A. Brachear | Tribune staff reporters
November 7, 2007
A Jesuit priest accused last week of abusing a teenage boy he took on overseas trips can await trial at his Oak Lawn apartment, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, rejecting an argument from prosecutors that Rev. Donald McGuire remains a serious danger to the community who must be jailed.
Prosecutors told U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys there is no way to ensure McGuire, who was convicted last year of abuse charges in Wisconsin but is out of prison pending an appeal, won't be able to victimize children while he is out on bail. He has been accused of using his position in the community to get access to young people that he victimized over and over again, Assistant U.S. Atty. Julie Ruder argued.
Ruder said McGuire, once a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa, was able to commit abuse "while still holding himself out to be a good person, a holy person, as someone who cared for children and as someone who protected children." He repeatedly ignored restrictions placed on him by the Jesuit order, she said.
"He pretended to be one thing when he was acting in a different way entirely," she said. "You can't accept the defendant on his face."
Keys said the priest is presumed innocent, and his task was only to determine whether there are conditions that will keep the public safe and ensure that McGuire appears in court.
"There's no question in the court's mind that these allegations are very disturbing, and occurred over a long period of time," the judge said. McGuire's supervisors apparently knew about abuse and it continued anyway, he said.
McGuire should not be allowed to come and go at will, the judge said, finding that two third-party custodians should watch over him while he is confined to his home. The judge set a $50,000 bail, and enlisted two of the priest's lifelong friends to monitor him. One is the owner of the building where McGuire has been staying since June, Robert Yario.
Questioned by the court about his task, Yario told the judge he would have no money to pay if McGuire violates his bail, can't see McGuire's door from his own apartment and has doubts about the accusations.
"I don't believe he's evil, and I don't believe newspapers," he said. "I guess I'm old-fashioned. If I thought he was a pedophile I'd kick him out."
Still, Yario said he understands his only duty is to report a violation that he witnesses. The priest is to have no contact with anyone under 18.
Ruder said prosecutors have "substantial concerns" about McGuire being released, and they may appeal the judge's decision. Ruder said she worried the scenario gives McGuire the kind of loopholes that he has exploited in the past.
McGuire is charged with traveling to Switzerland and Austria in December 2000 to engage in sexual misconduct with a minor, who is now a college student. An affidavit in the case accuses McGuire of abusing the accuser in 12 states and six countries, and it cites inappropriate conduct with two other minors.
Kevin McGuire, the priest's nephew and the lawyer representing the accuser, said he and his client were not pleased that the judge allowed McGuire to go free.
"We were hoping that the judge would see that he is a serial pedophile and that he would take into account that ... he came back to abuse again and again and again," he said. "He's demonstrated over and over again that he engages in deception to get what he wants."
There are several schools within a mile of his apartment, Ruder said, also noting that the Jesuits have made a move to dismiss McGuire from their order. Electronic monitoring can alert authorities to when McGuire leaves, but cannot give any warning about who might come to see McGuire.
Allowed to question Yario, Ruder asked whether others live in his building. Yario said there are three other apartments, but none of his tenants have children.
McGuire's lawyer, Stephen Komie, promised that the priest will make all of his court dates. He argued that McGuire had followed all of the directions of a judge in Wisconsin who handled his criminal case there. He has been to court when directed, and there are no allegations by prosecutors that McGuire has had any inappropriate contact with minors since 2003.
McGuire, 77, was convicted last year in Wisconsin of molesting two students from Loyola Academy in Wilmette during trips near Lake Geneva in the 1960s. He is appealing a 7-year prison sentence, and is expected to be returned to Wisconsin within days to face a third probation violation.
On Tuesday, Rev. Edward Schmidt, head of the Chicago Jesuits, revealed that he petitioned Jesuit headquarters in Rome more than a year ago seeking McGuire's dismissal from the religious order. Before his court appearance Tuesday, McGuire received a notice of his termination pending Vatican approval. It is up to the Vatican to remove him from the priesthood, a logical next step after his ouster from the order.