Last week, SF Weekly published a cover story showing that several high-ranking Jesuit priests were aware for years that a prominent member of their order, Donald McGuire, was molesting teenage boys in the Bay Area and elsewhere. Despite this knowledge, they never reported his actions to police or child-welfare workers. The order is now being sued by victims, who say it enabled McGuire's crimes.
As our story was going to press, the Jesuit order filed a response in an Illinois court to plaintiffs' recent motion for punitive damages in the suit. Lawyers for the order acknowledge in the document that McGuire -- who has twice been convicted in criminal courts of molesting children, and is now serving a 25-year federal prison sentence -- is "an evil and perverted man who used his substantial intellectual gifts and his dominating personality to disobey every tenet of his faith and his vows as a cleric."
However, the order also asserts that his colleagues and superiors took
reasonable steps to respond to abuse complaints about McGuire, but
were simply unable to control him. "McGuire is imprisoned and
condemned," the response states. "Punitive damages in this case will
punish a defendant [i.e. the Jesuits] that does not merit such
According to the motion:
The Jesuits have for centuries maintained their Order on the basis of absolute obedience to one's superiors and absolute fealty to the teachings of the Christian faith. In all but the most extreme circumstances, those tools should have been sufficient to influence the conduct of men who made the sacrifices required to enter the priesthood. McGuire, however, was not the usual person and it fairly may be said that for several years, the Jesuits were ill-equipped to recognize and confront the evil acts of one who was determined to intentionally ignore his vow of obedience. Donald McGuire was an accomplished liar who gained fame as a minister of faith even as he purported to teach Christian values around the world. He was a master manipulator, a force of evil whose outward veneer fooled even Mother Theresa [sic]."