Famed Jesuit Accused of Abusing Boy 1,000 Times Around World

In this Friday, Dec. 20, 2019 photo, Bobby Goldberg stands in the living room at his home in suburban Chicago. Goldberg has filed a lawsuit claiming he was abused more than 1,000 times in multiple states and countries by the late Donald McGuire, a prominent American Jesuit priest who had close ties to Mother Teresa. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Chicago (AP) — One day in May of 1970, an 11-year-old boy and his disabled sister were sitting on the curb outside a Chicago tavern, waiting for their mother to come out. When a priest with crinkly eyes and a ready smile happened by and offered the family a ride home, they could not have been happier.

The boy, Robert J. Goldberg, now 61, would pay dearly for the favor, enduring what he describes as years of psychological control and sexual abuse he suffered while working as a child valet for the late Rev. Donald J. McGuire. He remained in the Jesuit’s thrall for nearly 40 years, even volunteering to testify on McGuire’s behalf during criminal trials that ultimately resulted in a 25-year prison sentence for the priest.

But today, Goldberg says he has finally broken the hold McGuire once had on him. And he has begun to tell his story, in interviews with The Associated Press and in a lawsuit he filed Monday in California state court in San Francisco.

The lawsuit charges that McGuire, a globe-trotting Jesuit with ties to Saint Teresa of Calcutta, abused Goldberg “more than 1,000 times, in multiple states and countries,” during sojourns to spiritual retreats throughout the United States and Europe.

On these trips, the lawsuit says, McGuire referred to Goldberg as his “protégé.” All the while, the suit says, the boy carried his briefcase, ran errands and often endured daily abuse that included “sexual touching, oral copulation and anal penetration.”

The lawsuit filed Monday doesn’t currently name any defendants, but Goldberg’s attorneys say the defendants will include the Jesuit religious order in the United States and the order’s top leader in Rome, among others.

They also say that Goldberg’s abuse occurred at a time when powerful church officials — including Mother Teresa, who was elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis three years ago — knew that McGuire had been repeatedly accused of sexually abusing boys. Church officials went to great lengths to cover up his crimes, the suit alleges.

In the nearly two decades since the clergy abuse scandal erupted, thousands of survivors have stepped forward to tell their painful stories. Hundreds more revealed their abuse in lawsuits earlier this year, when the state of New York opened a one-year window that allows survivors to file child sex abuse lawsuits without regard to the statute of limitations. And hundreds more, including Goldberg, are expected to step forward as a similar window opens Jan. 1 in California.

But many victims still suffer in silence, often taking decades to step forward, if they ever do. Advocates say that Catholic priests, as representatives of God and respected members of their communities, are often able to exert control over the children they abuse, especially when they are helping the child or their families overcome poverty or other obstacles.

Terence McKiernan of Bishop.Accountability.org, which tracks the abuse crisis and maintains a data base of accused priests, said abusers in the Jesuit religious order are well-equipped to exercise psychological control over their victims because of the order’s reputation as administrators of dozens of colleges and high schools in the United States alone.

“Everyone knows the Jesuits are smart and the Jesuits are sophisticated,” he said. “And they often bring enormous sophistication to the abuse they perpetrate.”