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Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church
by the investigative staff of the Boston Globe

Chapter 1 | Father Geoghan | Page 4

Foreword  |  Introduction  |  Page 1  |  Page 2
Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7

One priest, a former colleague of Geoghan, said he never had a chance to form a friendship with him because Geoghan was frequently out of the rectory while other priests were eating together, or reading, or otherwise socializing.

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Former priest John Geoghan

"I found him different, I must say. I mean, I just didn’t know how to react to him. He was different," added Rev. Thomas W. Moriarty, who was pastor at St. Paul’s Church in Hingham, south of Boston, where Geoghan served from 1967 to 1974. "Something is wrong.... Something is not right here, but you can’t put your finger on it."

While he served with Moriarty in Hingham, on the shore south of Boston, Geoghan found time to befriend Joanne Mueller, a single mother of four boys who lived in Melrose, twenty-three miles away. Mueller’s mother knew Geoghan from his days at Blessed Sacrament and she introduced her daughter to the priest.

Soon Geoghan was a familiar figure in Mueller’s home. As with some of his other victims, he took the boys for ice cream. He read them books at night. He helped get the boys in and out of the bathtub. Mueller would slip out for errands, and Geoghan would baby-sit for an hour here or an hour there. "He was our friend," Mueller said. If Geoghan disappeared upstairs into the boys’ bedroom, she didn’t give it a second thought.

One night in 1973, when Geoghan called asking to come over for a visit, the reaction of Mueller’s third son, then seven or eight, surprised her. The boy did not want Geoghan in his home. He grew increasingly upset when his mother pressed him about his reluctance to see the priest she considered a valued friend.

"And then finally he broke out in tears...," Mueller recalled. "He kept saying, ‘No, no, no. I don’t want him coming down.’ He was insisting and I shouted back at him and I said, ‘Why? What? What is it?’ And he said, ‘I don’t want him touching my wee-wee.’ I hate to be so blunt, but that’s what he said."

Mueller was shocked. "I said, ‘What? What do you mean? What are you saying?’ You know, I didn’t understand. And then the next thing he blurted out was, ‘I don’t want him doing that to my wee-wee.’

"And that I will never forget. Because it was dawning on me, just shock and horror, that, you know, he’s saying this. And, I mean, this isn’t just a normal thing he’s saying, and for a kid to say that. So now it dawned on me. I mean, this is awful. I said, ‘What?’ And he literally threw himself on the floor and sobbed. He was completely hysterical."

Soon, so too was the entire Mueller household. Her five-year-old dissolved into tears. She summoned her two other boys, who were upstairs. When their mother asked for details about Geoghan’s conduct, they stood speechless at first. And then they began to cry. Her oldest boy told her, "Father said we couldn’t talk about it and tell you, never to tell you because it was a confessional."

Mueller was overwhelmed—Geoghan, at that very moment, was on his way to her home. It was raining. The weather was cool. She grabbed some jackets for the kids and headed for her local rectory, St. Mary’s in Melrose, where she and her boys met with Rev. Paul E. Miceli, a parish priest who knew both Geoghan and Mueller’s family.

Mueller said Miceli counseled her sons "to try to not think about this; to forget about it. ‘Bad as it was,’ he said, ‘just try. Don’t think about it. It will never happen again.’... He said, ‘He will never be a priest again. It will never happen again.’ He reassured me."

Miceli, until recently a member of Cardinal Law’s cabinet, contradicted Mueller in a court deposition. He said he did not recall her name and had never received a visit of the sort she described. But Miceli acknowledged receiving a call from a woman saying Geoghan was spending too much time with her children. Miceli testified that the caller said nothing about sexual abuse. Nonetheless, Miceli said he drove to Geoghan’s new parish in Jamaica Plain to relay the woman’s concerns to Geoghan face-to-face.

After Hingham, Geoghan’s next stop was St. Andrew’s, in the Forest Hills section of Jamaica Plain, where he served from 1974 to 1980.

Jamaica Plain was where Maryetta Dussourd was raising her own four children—three boys and a girl—as well as her niece’s four boys. In her hardscrabble neighborhood, she hoped there was a priest the children could look up to. Then she met Geoghan. He supervised the parish’s altar boys and Boy Scout troop. Geoghan was eager to help her too. Before long, he was visiting her apartment almost every evening—for nearly two years. He routinely took the seven boys out for ice cream and put them to sleep at night.

Dussourd worked hard to please Geoghan. When the priest mentioned that his uncle, the monsignor, had taken away his teddy bear when he was growing up, she bought him a blue one for his fortieth birthday. The gift delighted him.

All that time, Geoghan was regularly molesting the seven boys in their bedrooms. In some cases, he performed oral sex on them. Other times, he fondled their genitals or forced them to fondle his—occasionally as he prayed. An archdiocesan memo dated December 30, 1994, and labeled "personal and confidential," said Geoghan would stay in the Dussourd home even when he was on a three-day retreat because he missed the children so much. He "would touch them while they were sleeping and waken them by playing with their penises."

Dussourd discovered what was happening after the children finally told her sister, Margaret Gallant. When Dussourd asked one of her sons to confirm the abuse, he told her about the time Geoghan asked him to stay overnight at the home of the priest’s elderly mother. It was a night her son had never before spoken about—and never wanted to.

Foreword  |  Introduction  |  Page 1  |  Page 2
Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7

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