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Ex-Priest Get 44 Years For Sex Abuse

May 5, 2004 | AP A judge sentenced a former Roman Catholic priest to at least 44 years in prison for sexually abusing three altar boys, calling him a "wolf in sheep’s clothing" who used his status to prey on the victims.

Strafford County Superior Court Judge Peter Fauver said Monday he wanted Joseph T. Maguire’s sentence to be a "perpetual reminder to people of the cloth" that penalties in sexual abuse cases will be "extreme."

"I’m not sure where you’re going in your next life, sir, but your track record here isn’t going to help you," Fauver told Maguire.

Fauver was unmoved by doctors’ claims that heart and kidney ailments will kill Maguire, 73, by October. He has chosen not to seek treatment and is a hospice patient. Maguire was rolled into court yesterday in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank strapped to the back and was dressed in a hospital gown.

In a barely audible whisper, Maguire apologized to his victims and their families Monday.

"I’m heartbroken for them," he said. "I know they’re all such good people and I hurt them deeply and I ask for their forgiveness."

Maguire was convicted on 36 felony counts of abusing boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Joseph parish in Dover. Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 30 to 60 years.

Maguire’s sentence carries a maximum of 88 years in jail with additional suspended sentences of up to six years. His public defender, Linda Slamon, did not object to sentencing recommendations.

Will Delker, senior assistant attorney general, said Maguire’s serial abuse began with a 9-year-old altar boy at his first assignment at Somersworth’s Holy Rosary Church in 1973 and included "no less than 10 boys" over a 30-year period.

"(Maguire) is a sexual predator of the first order," Delker said. "There is no other way to describe his prolific abuse of preteen boys."

Some parents of boys Maguire allegedly abused complained to church officials over the years, but he was not indicted until February 2003.

Maguire was interviewed by Dover police in 1986 after an anonymous letter said the priest had molested and taken nude photos of boys, but prosecutors did not pursue charges because of statute of limitations issues, Delker said.

Some of the victims and their families spoke at the hearing.

A father of two victims said he had looked for Maguire "with a killing hate" and that Maguire had taken his family’s innocence and part of their lives.

"He was an evil man and the church officials who sent him (to Dover) were evil men," the father said.

A mother of two other victims stood with her husband and fought back tears as she repeatedly asked Maguire why he had abused her sons. She said one of her sons had tried to kill himself because of Maguire’s abuse.

Diane Murphy Quinlan, a diocese spokesman, said the diocese’s focus is now on helping survivors of sexual abuse and promoting a safe environment. She declined to comment on whether superiors who allegedly ignored abuse complaints against Maguire were still with the diocese.

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