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State: No review for McGuire

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
November 23, 2009
— Officials from the state Attorney General’s Office say a former Jesuit priest convicted in Walworth County of molesting two boys was given a fair trial and is not entitled to a review of his case.

Donald McGuire was sentenced in 2006 to five counts of indecent behavior with a child stemming from two victims’ accounts that they separately had sexual contact with McGuire during trips to a cottage in Fontana in the 1960s. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 20 years probation.


At the time, McGuire was a Jesuit priest teaching at an academy in Illinois.


Assistant Attorney General Daniel O’Brien this week replied to an appeal from McGuire’s attorney asking for review of his trial.


Robert Henak wrote in his appeal that the 36 years between the alleged offenses and McGuire’s prosecution barred him from presenting a proper defense and from having a fair trial.


O’Brien wrote McGuire only is entitled to a new trial if he can show the real controversy was not fully tried, or that there was a miscarriage of justice.


“While there would be more defense witnesses at a retrial, the real controversy would again be tried but its outcome would likely remain the same,” O’Brien wrote.


Henak said despite conforming to the statute of limitations, prosecuting a man 36 years later takes away the his right to a fair trial. Henak said key witnesses either were dead or had fuzzy memories.


The statute of limitations for sexual assaults is six years in Wisconsin.


The statute freezes, however, if the defendant moves to a different state, which McGuire did after the alleged offenses took place.


The freeze allowed Walworth County officials to prosecute McGuire almost four decades after the alleged offenses took place because he was not residing in Wisconsin.


After the 2006 trial, McGuire’s attorney appealed, saying the prosecution was beyond the statute of limitations.


The 2nd District Court of Appeals in Waukesha affirmed the conviction.


O’Brien wrote that enough witnesses were presented at trial and that Henak failed to prove that the trial attorney’s performance was deficient and prejudicial to McGuire’s defense.


Oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 5.



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