John Geoghan stands out as one of the worst serial molesters in the recent history of the Catholic Church in America. For three decades, Geoghan preyed on young boys in a half-dozen parishes in the Boston area while church leaders looked the other way. Despite his disturbing pattern of abusive behavior, Geoghan was transferred from parish to parish for years before the church finally defrocked him in 1998.
After a January 2002 report on Geoghan by the Globe Spotlight Team, the case became a catalyst for revelations of other clergy abuse and church coverups. Dozens of priests were accused of abuse by hundreds of alleged victims who filed lawsuits, forcing the archdiocese to release damaging documents that showed the church’s obsession with avoiding scandal and protecting its reputation.
In the Geoghan case alone, some 150 people eventually came forward, claiming they were fondled or raped by the priest. In February 2002, Geoghan was sentenced to nine to 10 years in state prison for molesting a 10-year-old boy at a pool in Waltham. Later, the Boston Archdiocese reached a $10 million settlement with 86 other alleged victims. More than a dozen civil suits are still pending.
See the story list to the left for the latest coverage of the Geoghan case.
Former priest John Geoghan in Middlesex Superior Court in January 2002. (Globe Staff Photo / John Blanding)
Patrick McSorley, who allegedly was molested by Geoghan as a child in the 1980s. (Globe Staff Photo / Nancy Lane)