The Making Of A Child Molester: One Man's Grim Story

Posted: April 02, 1990

When Daniel Russell McGuire was 12, he says, he was sodomized by a priest he knew. He went home and told his parents, but his father didn't believe him.

From that day on, he says, his father disowned him, called him a homosexual and a sissy.

To hear McGuire tell it, that day in 1967 marked the start of his estrangement from society, the beginning of his rage and shame.

During the last two decades, McGuire has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting four Camden County boys, all of whom were 13. In a widely publicized arrest in the county two weeks after he had been paroled, McGuire was charged in February with sexually assaulting a fifth 13-year-old boy, and the charges are to go to a grand jury.

McGuire, who turned 35 on Friday, represents every parent's worst nightmare. He is the stranger to whom kids are warned not to talk, the suburban stalker whose presence makes the streets unsafe.

Whether he will get another chance in society will depend on the New Jersey justice system. But documents and interviews show that the system already has failed both Daniel McGuire and society, for it took a troubled young man, helped make him a walking time bomb and then let him go.

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McGuire was born in Woodbury, the son of a laborer and a homemaker. He and his two older sisters had a strict Catholic upbringing.

"At the time, I was a very religious person," said McGuire, who consented to three interviews with The Inquirer at the Camden County Jail against the advice of his public defender, Thomas DeMarco.

"Every time the nuns would leave the classroom they would leave me in charge, and I would tell the nuns what went on," he said. By the sixth grade, when he became an altar boy, he was a 12-year-old loner.

He said he asked for help from the priest he knew. It was during a counseling session, he says, that the priest molested him.

"He told me that I better not tell anyone, because if I do, God will punish me," McGuire said.

But McGuire did talk about it. He told his parents.

"From that time on, my father would have nothing to do with me," he said. ''My father wouldn't believe me. He disowned me, called me a liar. My father was die-hard Catholic, and he said no priest would do such things like that."

McGuire said he had tried to compensate for his feelings of inadequacy by acting tough. After the priest's attack, "I became more of that, trying not to let it hurt me, trying not to give a damn and trying to impress people that I'm not gay or anything."

In a recent interview, the priest said he did not remember McGuire and denied his allegation.

McGuire said he could not forget his feelings of anger, resentment, pain. He retreated farther into himself, rejected his Catholic upbringing and became an atheist.

"I hate to say this, but my father's been dead for over seven years now, and I still hate him with a passion. The day he died, I didn't go into the church, but I went to his funeral to spit on his grave."

Suspected of selling drugs, McGuire was expelled from Haddon Township High School in 1971 at the end of his sophomore year. He quit Camden County Vocational High School in Pennsauken after getting in trouble for fighting.

He lived mainly at his parents' house in Westmont and he did use drugs, primarily LSD, he said. In 1974, he spent two months in the mental-health unit of Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center for cocaine addiction.

Later that year, on Nov. 19, he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old boy in Clementon.

He pleaded guilty in October 1976 and received a three-year suspended sentence. Two months later, McGuire was arrested in connection with two more sexual assaults on 13-year-old boys. In the first, he menaced the boy with a screwdriver and, in the second, he brandished a knife.

Pleading guilty again, he was sentenced to a three-year term at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center, at Avenel. And so, on July 1, 1977, McGuire began the first of two journeys through Avenel, a treatment center for male sex offenders.

"I would see somebody that would remind me of myself at that age," McGuire said of his attacks on the boys. "I just had a knack of finding myself. I can say this: There was many kids in my past that had broke out crying and kind of begged me not to do anything, and I would let them go. It was just the kids that had a kind of tough-man attitude that I wanted to hurt and destroy."

He said that he was not gay, but that his father and his therapist at Avenel made him think he was.

The therapist, Rashmi Skadegaard, says she did encourage McGuire to acknowledge his homosexuality. "I think that Danny has strong homosexual tendencies, because he was involved with 13-year-old boys consistently," she said.

She said she recalled that McGuire had a homosexual relationship with another child molester, but added, "I don't know if I encouraged that relationship, because it was not a healthy relationship at all, considering their pathologies."

McGuire says that was the only homosexual relationship he ever had and that he did it only to please Skadegaard, who was director of Avenel's psychology department until she went into private practice in Yardley last year. Skadegaard said McGuire's version of events was "bizarre," and she said she believed he had been involved in other such relationships.

In the autumn of 1977, McGuire reported that he had been raped by another inmate. Authorities say McGuire failed and his alleged assailant passed polygraph tests over the allegation. McGuire was placed in solitary confinement for lying, but Skadegaard says she believes he may have been raped.

Upon release in July 1980, McGuire went to live with his parents in Maple Shade and found a series of jobs in Camden County.

In 1981, a computer dating service put him in touch with a Philadelphia woman with whom he began a relationship that led to a shared apartment in Maple Shade.

Because she was Jewish, McGuire registered for a 16-week course in Judaism. After the course, he converted.

On June 6, 1982, in a ceremony at the Collegeville Inn in Collegeville, Montgomery County, a Reform rabbi married the couple.

"I still go under the Jewish religion," McGuire said. "It's the only religion I believed in."

But the marriage was doomed. The newlyweds had just returned to their new apartment in Bensalem from a honeymoon at Paradise Streams in the Poconos when she found an old letter from McGuire's gay friend at Avenel.

"And basically, that was it, a week and a day," McGuire said, summarizing the happiness of their marriage. "A week and a day. When I got home from work, she was sittin' in the middle of the living-room floor in hysterics."

The couple separated Nov. 15, 1982, McGuire said. Three days later, he attacked a 13-year-old boy at knifepoint in Lindenwold. He was arrested at his mother's Lindenwold apartment, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in April 1983 to 20 years at Avenel, five without parole.

This time, he stayed there three years and eight months.

When Judge A. Donald Bigley sentenced McGuire in 1983 in Camden County Superior Court, he wrote:

"I imposed the required sentence. . . . It was very obvious that Mr. McGuire is in need of therapy. . . . Hopefully the treating modalities at Avenel will be able to do something with Mr. McGuire during this present sentence. Otherwise, he is a danger to those on the streets."

But during McGuire's second tour at Avenel, he says, he signed a therapy refusal form "because I did not believe in their therapy. I felt it harmed me more than it was doing good to me." So he was transferred on Dec. 5, 1986, to Riverfront State Prison in Camden, where he stayed until he was up for parole in 1988.

The Rev. Robert N. Bowser, chaplain at Riverfront, described McGuire as "a very hurt person, a very wounded human being. . . . Being raped and messed with at Avenel was much more destructive" than the incidents in McGuire's youth. "I think he was in bad shape when he came in (to Avenel), but (the treatment there) may have really solidified it."

Meanwhile, McGuire's wife had obtained a divorce in April 1983.

After McGuire's mother died in 1985, he said, her insurance money was split among her three children. If McGuire had been paroled when the parole board first considered his case in January 1988, he says, he could have had the $3,000 he inherited. Instead, he said, he gave it to his sister.

In 1987, parole officer Eric Hall noted in a preparole report that, if released, McGuire could afford an apartment. Parole board members Luis H. Garcia and Richard B. Goldman, who met with McGuire, decided against parole. They wrote that "a substantial likelihood exists that you would commit a new crime if released."

In January 1990, Garcia again met with McGuire, this time with board member George J. Bush. Parole was recommended, and McGuire was released Feb. 13.

His savings then amounted to just $94.62, his prison earnings. He told his parole officer he had given his inheritance to a sister in 1989 so she could find treatment for her son who was involved in drugs and satanism.

"I told the parole board right from the beginning that I had no place to go," he said. "No parents, no grandparents, no nothin'. I kept on trying to get assistance from my parole officer, but he just told me he's not there to baby-sit me. He told me to go to the Camden city shelter, but it was full of drugs, everything I tried to stay away from."

The parole officer, Joseph Koines, said he advised McGuire to spend his money on two nights in a motel, after which, McGuire said, he lived in the Lindenwold High-Speed Line station, rode the train all night and hung out at the shelter.

As he recalled his plight, McGuire began to cry.

"Waking up in the rain all the time, and being freezin' cold, I just felt so desperate and so lonely, I went out and attacked someone. And I knew I wanted to come back to prison."

He cried again when he thought of how he had reverted to his criminal behavior.

"I destroyed everything again. I feel for the kids. I hurt. God, I don't want them ending up like me."

On the morning of Feb. 26, with the temperature in the teens, he went looking for "somebody with long hair, like a wise-ass attitude, (who) didn't give a damn, and playing macho man."

McGuire went looking, he said, for himself.

In Haddon Township, he found a boy bundled up against the cold, carrying his books to school. The following day, two weeks after his parole, McGuire was arrested and charged with molesting the boy and with trying to molest a 13-year-old girl.

Parole board member Garcia declined to comment on what had reversed the board's position between the two meetings with McGuire. And Louis Nickolopoulos, board chairman, said he did not know why the board paroled McGuire in 1990 after not doing so 1988.

"They felt he wasn't wine yet," he said. "You don't release wine until it's ready. . . . The parole board members are not God, and on occasion they do have failures. Certainly it's a failure."

McGuire's odyssey has continued at the Camden County Jail, where he says inmates, egged on by corrections officers, beat him.

"Man, if you'd seen how this kid came in" from Cooper Hospital, said

his cellmate, Frank Rosa, 41. "His eye looked almost like it was into the

back of his head . . . (Corrections officers) said, 'Look what you're in

here with, Rosa. He likes to (have sex with) little boys. I'd kill (him)

if I was you.' "

In 1978, while McGuire was at Avenel, a former girlfriend gave birth to a son he has never seen. Next January he will be 13.

Asked what he would do if he learned that someone had sexually molested his son, McGuire said: "I'd kill the . . . bastard."

Then he paused.

"I know I'm double standard and everything," he said. "But being me, I'd find medical treatment for me."

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