The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Monday, June 27, 2011
Walnut Creek man wins in pedophile priest case
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949 322 7434, [email protected])
A Walnut Creek man who was sexually assaulted as a child by a former Bay Area priest won a legal victory last week in his struggle for justice. An Illinois judge ruled that the victim can seek punitive damages against the Jesuits for abuse perpetrated by Fr. Donald McGuire, who was once Mother Teresa’s spiritual advisor.
We are grateful for this decision. Catholic officials are still ignoring and concealing child sex crimes. They refuse to reform. Perhaps monetary damages will deter the church’s decision-makers from acting recklessly and callously in the future.
We hope that every single person who saw, suspected or suffered McGuire’s crimes will come forward, get help, call police, protect others, and start healing.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Judge Slams Jesuits for "Sham" Efforts to Control Pedophile Priest Donald McGuire
By Peter Jamison Thu., Jun. 23 2011 at 1:55 PM
An Illinois judge sharply criticized the Jesuit order in a ruling issued yesterday for not taking adequate steps to rein in defrocked priest and twice-convicted child molester Donald McGuire, asserting that McGuire was preying on teenage boys "right under the noses" of his superiors and that rules established to protect minors from him were "a sham."
The ruling allows punitive damages to be levied against the Jesuits if they lose a lawsuit over McGuire's four-decade career as a predator priest that is now pending in Cook County Circuit Court. The lawsuit names as a defendant the Chicago Province of the Jesuits, where McGuire was technically based. McGuire -- an eminent Jesuit who served as spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa -- taught at the University of San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s, and ministered to Bay Area families extensively throughout the 1990s.
"The court accepts that the Jesuits are a religious order with a rich history of service to the faithful," Judge Jeffrey Lawrence wrote. "However, the leaders of the Chicago Province fell far short of this ideal. Plaintiffs have amply demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of proving facts at trial which would support an award of punitive damages."
The lawsuit is being brought by several victims of McGuire, including one of two boys from Walnut Creek he allegedly molested. The Jesuits had argued that punitive damages should not be permitted in the suit because McGuire's bosses had no way of controlling him and the wayward priest flaunted his order's vows of obedience.
But Lawrence, noting that the Jesuits received nine "credible" complaints against the priest over 33 years, rejected that argument. He stated that rules the Jesuits issued forbidding McGuire from ministering to minors were never enforced. "The guidelines they set for him were a sham," he wrote in his ruling. Moreover, Lawrence noted, the Jesuits proactively lied to other church officials about McGuire's troubled past.
"The record shows more than mere acquiescence," he stated. "By 1998, the Chicago Province possessed sure and certain knowledge of McGuire's predations. Notwithstanding, it wrote a good standing letter to the Archdiocese of Chicago which stated that it had never received reports of any improprieties committed by McGuire and that there was no reason to restrict his ministry to minors ... it is clear that the statements in this letter were knowingly untruthful."
You can read the full ruling here.
The decision could pave the way for a multimillion-dollar payout from the Jesuits if the alleged victims prevail at trial. In his ruling, Lawrence noted that the case is "strikingly similar" to another recent Illinois lawsuit over clergy sex-abuse that resulted in a $5 million judgment against the Diocese of Belleville.
Jesuits open to punitive damages in civil abuse case
By Manya A. Brachear
Wed Jun 22 2011 6:53 PM
A Cook County judge ruled today that a plaintiff could seek punitive damages against the Chicago Jesuits in a civil lawsuit regarding alleged childhood sex abuse by convicted sex offender and former Jesuit priest Donald McGuire.
Judge Jeffrey Lawrence concluded that the plaintiff “demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of proving facts at trial which would support an award of punitive damages.”
“The Jesuits’ claim that they were ill-equipped to recognize and confront McGuire’s evil acts rings hollow in light of the fact that he owed them absolute obedience,” the judge wrote. “The guidelines they set for him were a sham.”
“The court accepts that the Jesuits are a religious order with a rich history of service to the faithful … However, the leaders of the Chicago Province fell far short of this ideal,” he wrote.
In a statement, the Rev. Timothy Kesicki, head of the Chicago Province, reiterated regret that the Jesuits did not do enough to stop McGuire.
“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,” Kesicki said. He added that steps have been implemented to address clergy misconduct.
Punitive damages are difficult to seek in Illinois, especially from judges in Cook County, said Tony Masciopinto, a former federal prosecutor and plaintiff’s attorney.
“It changes the landscape of the litigation and the risks involved,” said Masciopinto, who is representing the victim’s lawyers in a separate defamation case filed by a priest who says he was falsely accused.
The last ruling in Illinois similar to Lawrence’s led to a 2008 jury verdict against the Belleville diocese.
“More steps are needed to force the Catholic hierarchy to take children’s safety more seriously,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “This ruling helps achieve that.”
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests