Dozens of reports dating back more than 45 years show Jesuit officials ignored or covered up allegations that former priest Donald McGuire was sexually abusing boys, said attorneys representing three men who contend they were molested by McGuire.
More than 60 documents filed as part of a Cook County lawsuit against McGuire and his Roman Catholic religious order indicate Jesuit officials had repeated warnings that McGuire was sexually abusing teenage boys but took no action against him, attorney Marc Pearlman said.
“They knew about it the whole time,” said Pearlman, who represents three men suing McGuire and the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus for alleged abuse by the now-defrocked 80-year-old priest.
McGuire, a longtime adviser to Mother Teresa, is serving a 25-year prison term after being convicted in 2008 of federal charges that he brought a minor across state lines to engage in sex. He also was convicted in 2006 of molesting two boys in Wisconsin during the 1960s.
The documents alleging a coverup by Jesuit leaders were filed this week as part of a motion seeking extra, punitive damages in the civil case being pressed by the three men who say they were repeatedly abused by McGuire. To obtain those damages, they must show Jesuit leaders were aware of his actions but took no steps to curtail his alleged abuse, Pearlman said.
“If this claim doesn’t meet that burden, I don’t know what does,” Pearlman said.
The legal case is unusual because of the decades-long paper trail that appears to indicate officials in McGuire’s order were told repeatedly of his behavior but did nothing to stop it, the leader of a victim’s advocacy group said.
“I can’t think of another case I’ve studied that has so much notice. Time and time and time again there were complaints — with no action,” said Terence McKiernan, president of the Massachusetts-based BishopAccountability.org.
Citing the pending legal action, the religious order declined Tuesday to comment, but said in a statement that it “encourages anyone who has been abused by a member of the Chicago-Detroit Province to contact the appropriate authorities, regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred.”