The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


In letters, Geoghan showed self in denial

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 1/25/2002

In letters written to fellow priests through the 1980s and 1990s, John J. Geoghan paints a portrait of himself as growing increasingly isolated, bitter, and in denial about his alleged abuse of children, while his sister complained in a deposition that their families were harassing them by sitting on their patio and driving a truck across the property they share.

The letters, sprinkled among thousands of pages of court documents, depict a priest who cannot understand why he has been abandoned by other clerics and refuses to acknowledge sexually abusing young boys. The letters from Geoghan, whose 36-year career as a priest ended with his defrocking in 1998, often deal with mundane topics, such as getting reimbursed for mileage, but he occasionally vents his feelings.

"I have been falsely accused and feel alienated from my ministry and fellowship with my brother priests," he writes in November 1995 to Monsignor William Murphy, after Murphy asked for his resignation as associate director of the Office for Senior Priests.

"I cannot believe that one would be considered guilty on an accusation or based on speculation . . . Where is there justice or due process?"

"What hurts the most is being told by non-professionals `your [sic] in denial' therefore not credible."

In March 1997, he writes to "Bill," denying he sexually abused children: "I have never engaged in . . . sex with anyone. I have never been touched sexually by anyone. I would be willing to take a lie detector test . . ."

Yet by that time, Geoghan had admitted to a priest in 1980 that he had sexually abused seven children in Jamaica Plain, and he had been diagnosed as a pedophile by two institutions that treated sex offenders.

His sister, Catherine Geoghan, who is a staunch defender of her brother, said in a deposition in September 2000 that two families of victims had harassed her while she was at her Scituate oceanfront home.

The retired Boston school teacher said one family, some of whose members have settled lawsuits against Geoghan with the archdiocese, told her they were waiting for her brother. They "came and sat on my patio and sat and waited. I had to call the police and have them leave."

After police arrived, "they moved on to the seawall, they put down their chairs, their water bottles, their drinks, their binoculars, their cameras. That's the kind of people you're dealing with." It's unclear if they ever met with Geoghan.

When asked what she knew about another man who is suing Geoghan, she replied: "Nothing, except he drives over my property and he's not supposed to . . . He has a 16-wheeler truck that he drives over my property, just for harassment's sake."

Asked if her brother was upset about the charges of sexual abuse he faced, she responded: "Of course he's upset, because they're all false charges."

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 1/25/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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