Globe-trotting priest abused boy more than 1,000 times, suit alleges

Mr Robert Goldberg has described years of psychological control and sexual abuse under the late Jesuit priest Donald McGuire.
Mr Robert Goldberg has described years of psychological control and sexual abuse under the late Jesuit priest Donald McGuire.PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHICAGO • A globe-trotting Jesuit priest sexually abused an American boy who served as his valet "more than 1,000 times, in multiple states and countries", according to a lawsuit filed in California state court in San Francisco.

In the suit and in interviews with The Associated Press, Mr Robert Goldberg, now 61, describes years of psychological control and sexual abuse he suffered from age 11 into adulthood while working for the late reverend Donald McGuire.

McGuire died in federal prison in 2017 while serving a 25-year sentence for molesting other boys who came under his sway.

Mr Goldberg says he remained in the Jesuit's thrall for more than 40 years, even volunteering to testify in McGuire's defence during criminal trials involving other victims in Wisconsin and Illinois.

The lawsuit filed on Monday does not name the defendants, but Mr Goldberg's attorneys say the defendants will include the Jesuit order in the United States and the order's top leader at the Vatican.

At the time of the abuse against Mr Goldberg, the suit says, Catholic officials knew McGuire had been repeatedly accused of sexually abusing boys and went to great lengths to cover up his crimes.

In the nearly two decades since the Catholic abuse scandal erupted, thousands of survivors have stepped forward to tell painful stories. Hundreds more revealed their abuse in lawsuits earlier last 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, like Mr Goldberg, are expected to take advantage of similar windows that open today in New Jersey and California. But many victims still suffer in silence, often taking decades to step forward, if they ever do.

Advocates say that abusive priests, as representatives of God, exert powerful control over the children they abuse, especially when they are helping the children and their families overcome poverty or other obstacles.


Mr Goldberg was 11 when he met McGuire in 1970, one day when he and his sister were sitting on a curb outside a Chicago tavern, waiting for their mother to come out.

McGuire gave the family a ride home and ingratiated himself with Mr Goldberg's mother, persuading her that her son would be better off living under his supervision, according to the lawsuit.

During this time, the suit says, Mr Goldberg would spend evenings at McGuire's living quarters or would return home with McGuire, who would sleep with him in his bed.

"He was very controlling. I had no say whatsoever," Mr Goldberg told AP. "Whatever he told my mother he wanted me to do, I had to do it."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2020, with the headline 'Globe-trotting priest abused boy more than 1,000 times, suit alleges'. Subscribe