Priest sentenced for child molestation charges

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A 78-year-old defrocked Jesuit priest was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison for child molestation.

The former priest, Donald McGuire, was convicted Oct. 24 of taking a boy on retreats to have sex with him.

McGuire was convicted in federal court of one count of engaging in sexual activity with a 14-year-old boy while traveling to Austria and Switzerland in December 2000 and one count of the same offense, taking place August 2001 in Buffalo, Minn.

McGuire was also convicted in Wisconsin for child molestation in 2006 and given a seven-year prison sentence, which he has appealed. He is also facing child molestation charges in Arizona.

After the October decision, McGuire released a statement through his defense attorney, Stephen Komie, which read: "I continue to pray for the spiritual well-being of all involved in the case and put myself in the hands of the Lord. He is my salvation and hope."

In the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, went beyond the provided sentencing guidelines to send a message to those who think they can abuse their power.

"I want any such person to know the system of justice, and this judge personally, finds it absolutely abhorrent," Pallmeyer said in her courtroom decision.

Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Investigations in Chicago, the force that investigated McGuire, echoed Pallmeyer's sentiment, and stressed his force's commitment to protecting children.

"For a priest to abuse his position of trust in the community against innocent children is despicable," Hartwig said. "All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of sexual exploitation. Today's sentence shows that ICE will go the extra mile to protect the innocence of the most vulnerable segment of our society — our kids."

McGuire's arrest was part of Operation Predator, Hartwig said. Operation Predator is a national Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiative that deals with pedophiles, Internet predators, human traffickers and other predators.

McGuire, who was ordained in 1961 and had been a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa, was permanently removed of all priestly duties on Feb. 22, 2008.

The Rev. Edward Schmidt, the 15th Provincial of the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus, released a statement giving the Jesuits' position on McGuire.

"We are outraged and saddened that any abuse ever took place," Schmidt said. "(McGuire) has terribly abused the trust (the victims), and we, put in him. And the church, by the action taken today, has demonstrated that same belief."

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