(CN) - The 7th Circuit upheld the conviction of a Jesuit priest on charges that he crossed state lines to have sex with a teenager. Donald McGuire is serving 25 years in jail.
McGuire began serving as the spiritual director of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Theresa's order of nuns, in 1983. He was convicted of molesting a boy who accompanied him on several religious retreats.
McGuire allegedly recruited young teens to act as his pages on these retreats by carrying his bags, giving him massages and washing his feet.
Religious superiors became suspicious in 1991 and barred McGuire from traveling with minors. The order was gradually extended to include anyone under the age of 30.
McGuire was stripped of his priesthood in 2008.
He was convicted of crossing state lines for the purpose of having sex with a minor. McGuire was 67 at the time.
Despite the number of criminal provisions under which McGuire could have been charged, the government opted to prosecute under a narrow subsection requiring that the purpose of his travels was to engage in illegal sexual activity.
"This charging decision (which the government's lawyer was unable to explain to us at the oral argument) enabled the defendant to argue that the purpose of his trips was merely to conduct retreats; sex was not the purpose, but a welcome byproduct ... of the opportunities that the retreats created," Judge Richard Posner explained (parentheses in original).
The 7th Circuit previously ruled that sex did not have to be "the sole purpose" of travel, but merely "a dominant purpose" for such a charge to stick.
The three-judge panel found that McGuire's activities fit that description.
"The defendant in our case had, so far as appears, broad latitude concerning the number and location of the retreats he led, and he configured his travels to optimize his sexual activity," Posner wrote.
A total of four boys -- including the one he was convicted of abusing -- testified that they had been molested by McGuire. They are all adults now.
McGuire, now 80, has also been convicted in Wisconsin of indecent behavior with a child.
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