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Priest jailed after losing request for retrial

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Mike Heine
November 2, 2007
— The Rev. Donald J. McGuire is in jail and will have to go to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals if he wishes to overturn a conviction on nearly 40-year-old child molestation charges.

Minutes after Walworth County Judge James Carlson denied every defense motion requesting a new trial, McGuire, 77, was arrested on a warrant for probation violation.


Defense attorney Robert Henak was stunned.


“The timing on this is extremely suspicious,” Henak said. “It follows the big media circus. Especially given that the (probation) agent in Illinois said there wasn’t any problem, it’s very, very suspicious.”


Moments before the arrest, Henak told Carlson that McGuire was following all requirements of his Illinois Department of Corrections probation agent. McGuire is living in Oak Lawn, Ill.


McGuire was arrested for failing to comply with requirements of his sex offender registration in Wisconsin. He had not returned information needed to update his registered status, department spokesman John Dipko said.


It was McGuire’s third probation violation.


McGuire, in July 2006, was sentenced to seven years in prison and 20 years probation after being convicted in February of five counts of indecent behavior with a child.


He assaulted two boys in a Fontana home in the late 1960s. The victims now are in their 50s. McGuire was their teacher at Loyola Academy, a Jesuit school in Wilmette, Ill.


McGuire, a renowned priest who was once spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa, likely will spend at least three days in jail while the violation is investigated. Probation agents could force him to stay longer as a punishment for failing to comply with requirements, Dipko said.


In court Thursday, Carlson denied motions for a new trial.


One argument was that his trial attorney, Gerald Boyle, was ineffective because he failed to call witnesses that might have shown McGuire’s accusers were conspiring together.


Henak also argued that more evidence was discovered that Boyle neglected to investigate or use.


Boyle, who testified Thursday, said he hadn’t wanted the witnesses or evidence introduced for strategic reasons. He said it would have opened other avenues for the prosecution to attack and might have weakened his case.


“I think I made it clear that I was not interested in any such testimony from anyone if it would be counterproductive,” Boyle said. “I was absolutely certain it would be counterproductive. I thought I explained it to Father McGuire. Obviously, I hadn’t explained it well enough.”


Correcting the cumulative errors made in the trial could result in a different outcome, Henak said, defending his motions.


“A reasonable lawyer should not sit back and hope the state does not use credible evidence in the trial and then stick his head in the stand instead of using credible evidence to rebut that,” Henak said.


District Attorney Phil Koss said the new witnesses and new evidence would not have helped and showed no evidence of a conspiracy.


McGuire likely will appeal to a higher court, Henak said.


He has remained mostly out of custody since his sentencing because Carlson did not feel he was a danger to society.



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