A prominent Jesuit priest accused of sexually victimizing teenage boys who were his valets as he traveled the world leading Roman Catholic spiritual retreats was taken into federal custody yesterday in Chicago.
The priest, the Rev. Donald J. McGuire, was charged by the federal authorities with traveling to Switzerland and Austria to engage in sexual conduct with a minor. Father McGuire was convicted last year of sexually abusing two high school students on trips to Wisconsin.
He was free on parole awaiting an appeal.
If convicted on the new federal charge, he could face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Father McGuire, 77, has spent much of his career directing retreats for laypeople and members of Mother Teresa’s religious order. He entered Federal District Court in Chicago yesterday leaning on a walker and wearing a blue suit, without a priest’s collar.
An assistant United States attorney, Julie B. Ruder, called him a flight risk and a danger to the community. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys decided against releasing him on bond.
Victims’ lawyers released documents this week that showed that as far back as 1969 parents had contacted Jesuit officials to report that Father McGuire was behaving in sexually incorrect ways with their sons.
The order also received complaint letters from parents in 1993, 1994, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.
In that time, Father McGuire traveled alone with teenagers as young as 13, usually sharing a room and often a bed, according to the affidavit unsealed yesterday.
The actions continued despite orders from his Jesuit superiors in the Chicago Province in 1991 instructing Father McGuire not to travel on overnight trips “with any boy or girl under the age of 18 and, preferably, even under the age of 21.”
In 2001, Father McGuire was ordered not to travel or share a room with anyone younger than 30.
Investigators in the United States attorney’s office in Chicago interviewed three men who said that as teenagers they traveled with Father McGuire to dozens of states and overseas, often cleaning his laundry, cooking, helping him shower and giving him massages and shots for diabetes.
They said Father McGuire repeatedly showed them pornographic magazines and movies, sexually abused them and intimidated them into remaining silent.
Sometimes after the abuse, he would perform the rite of absolution. One of the reported victims said the first time Father McGuire molested him was at confession, when he was 9. The parents had considered it an honor when the prominent priest mentored their sons.
The boy who reportedly traveled with Father McGuire to Switzerland and Austria roomed with him in a Jesuit residence in Evanston, Ill., in 1999, starting at age 13, and stayed until 2003.
That was one year after the Catholic bishops of the United States declared that all priests credibly accused of abuse should be removed from ministry service.