The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Geoghan's alleged victims set hopes on his next trial

By Peter DeMarco, Globe Staff, 1/20/2002

Whether they cried or rejoiced when they heard the verdict, John J. Geoghan's alleged victims said they view his criminal conviction Friday on sexual abuse charges as merely "a good start."

"It was good news to hear," said Jim Sacco, 46, one of more than 130 people who say the former priest fondled or raped them as children. "But I didn't really have a big reaction. In this case, I don't see his penalty being substantial. I'd be surprised if he gets a year on this. All I'm hoping for is that he'd get 60 days so he'd be in jail for the next case."

Geoghan, 66, was found guilty in the first of three criminal cases brought against him. He could be sentenced for up to 10 years for touching a 10-year-old Waltham boy inside his bathing suit in a swimming pool a decade ago, though he probably will not receive the maximum sentence because he has no prior conviction.

In late February, Geoghan will go on trial on charges that he raped a 7-year-old boy in the basement of the defrocked priest's home in West Roxbury.

Phil Saviano, regional director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said alleged victims he has spoken with since Friday have been more anxious about the verdict in the upcoming trial. If found guilty, Geoghan could be jailed for life.

"And that still wouldn't be enough," Saviano said.

A hearing will be held Wednesday to determine Geoghan's sentencing date for Friday's conviction. The victim, now a 20-year-old college student, and his mother, who also testified in the trial, may offer their views on sentencing to Middlesex Superior Court Judge Sandra Hamlin prior to Geoghan's sentencing, said Paul Melaragni, spokesman for District Attorney Martha Coakley's office.

Geoghan, who is being held in Cambridge, appeared unshaken in court when the verdict was read.

In an interview with the Daily Item of Lynn an hour before the verdict, he said, "I am still a priest," and characterized his 1998 defrocking as a "punishment" by the Archdiocese of Boston.

Meanwhile, in a separate case, the archdiocese said yesterday that a Haverhill priest charged this week with raping a 15-year-old has also been accused of having consensual sex with a female parishioner.

The Rev. Kelvin E. Iguabita, 33, who has pleaded not guilty to the rape charges, was placed on health leave in June after the parishioner came forward. The archdiocese did not know of the alleged rape of the girl until her family notified church officials in November, said a spokeswoman, Donna Morrissey.

This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 1/20/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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