McGuire: what was known and when?

Religion reporter Susan Hogan/Albach has a piece in today's Chicago Sun-Times that asks, "When and what did the archdiocese know?" She reports that in December 2002 a concerned father contacted the Archdiocese of Chicago to complain about Donald McGuire, SJ--convicted last year of molesting two high-schoolers and recently arrested by the feds for allegedly traveling internationally to have sex with a minor. (McGuire's official status with the Jesuits is "in receipt of a dismissal"--meaning the SJs want him out, but he can appeal the decision.) The father informed the archdiocese that McGuire was sharing a bed with his nineteen-year-old son and "'overwhelming' another teen with porn and sex talk," Hogan/Albach writes. "Letters sent by the dad to the archdiocese mention a third teen." The letters provided to the archdiocese were written by family members of the other teenagers. According to the article, after receiving the letters, the archdiocese did not contact civil authorities or immediately remove McGuire from public ministry.

According to John O'Malley, director of archdiocesan legal services, the civil authorities weren't contacted because the father's son was nineteen at the time. What's more, O'Malley explained, the father didn't mention sexual abuse. "Where's the offense? There's no offense. We saw it as a Jesuit matter." (Presumably O'Malley means "where's the legal offense?")

The father disputes that account. He "told the Sun-Times the archdiocese never asked about those boys or their ages," Hogan/Albach reports. They were in fact minors. According to one of the teen's parents, "McGuire was overwhelming him with pornographic materials and talking to him about sexual matters at every waking moment."

Perhaps John O'Malley and people in the archdiocesan victims assistance office aren't aware of this, but what is described in the letters constitutes sexual abuse. If the article has the facts straight, and the archdiocese received notification that a priest was sharing a bed with a nineteen-year-old and assaulting another teenager with porn and sex talk, and failed to notify the authorities, failed to investigate (which could have led to a suspension from public ministry), then the Archdiocese of Chicago violated the Dallas Charter its archbishop had approved just six months earlier. In December 2002, no one at the archdiocese bothered to ask the father how old the other teens were? Where was the sense of urgency so soon after Dallas? Where is it now?

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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