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$19.6 million settlement reached in abuse lawsuit against former Jesuit priest

Donald J. McGuire  |  Walworth Coounty WisconsSheriff's Department photo

Donald J. McGuire | Walworth Coounty Wisconsin Sheriff's Department photo

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Updated: June 22, 2013 6:36AM

Jesuit officials in Chicago will pay $19.6 million to settle a civil lawsuit brought by six men who claim they were molested by a former priest and onetime spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa, an attorney for the plaintiffs said Monday.

Donald McGuire, formerly of Oak Lawn, is serving a 25-year prison term after being convicted in Chicago 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 amount of the settlement is reflective of the magnitude of misconduct by the top Jesuit officials,” said Jeff Anderson, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

The $19.6 million settlement against the Chicago Province for the Society of Jesus was reached in January.

Jesuit officials declined to provide further details of the settlement, but said the order has been in dialogue with the victims and remains committed to working “toward justice and healing.”

The Rev. Timothy Kesicki, head of the Jesuit province in Chicago, released a statement Tuesday apologizing to anyone abused by McGuire or other clergy. He urged other victims to reach out to law enforcement and child protection officials.

“We also want to say again that we are painfully aware that in the past we did not do enough to prevent abuse of children and vulnerable adults, and that we made mistakes by thinking that restrictive measures we undertook with regard to Donald McGuire would be effective,” the statement says.

“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.

The plaintiffs range in age from their 20s to their 40s. They say McGuire abused them when they were children between 1975 and the early 2000s, Anderson said.

Some of the six plaintiffs also were victims in the criminal cases against McGuire, and Anderson said evidence uncovered for the civil lawsuits was turned over to prosecutors in Chicago and Wisconsin.

“McGuire’s now in prison because of the evidence uncovered in these six suits,” Anderson said.

Attorneys involved in civil suits against McGuire previously filed documents alleging that Jesuit officials either ignored or covered up accusations of abuse against him.

McGuire was once a prominent Jesuit who served as a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa.

During his 2008 federal trial, two men McGuire molested as teens testified that the priest convinced them that they were “addicted” to masturbation and needed to be “educated” on how to stop it, and he showed them X-rated films and magazines.

Another witness, “John,” said the priest shared a bed with him and induced him into giving what became naked, nightly massages when they traveled together to India, Russia, Poland and elsewhere.

After McGuire was removed from the Society of Jesus in 2007, the Chicago province enacted a range of policies, including criminal background checks of future applicants and background checks of all current Jesuits to identify behavior that may suggest future misconduct, Kesicki said.

The province also hired former Cook County Sheriff’s Chief of Police Marjorie O’Dea in 2008 to act as a Director of Victim Advocacy, and ensure reports alleging sexual abuse are provided to prosecutors, Jesuit officials said.

All allegations received since 2007 have been reported to law enforcement, Kesicki said.

“I know some of McGuire’s victims. They have been deeply traumatized. But they have put their own misery aside in the effort to protect kids from him and warn parents about him,” said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests.

“More truth about awful church crimes and cover ups is being revealed and for that, Catholics should be grateful,” Blaine said in a news release.

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