The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Second Geoghan trial is set for October

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff, 7/19/2002

John J. Geoghan, the defrocked priest whose alleged crimes against scores of children ignited the Catholic Church's ongoing sex abuse scandal, will face his second criminal trial beginning Oct. 15.

Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle set the trial date yesterday, at a hearing in which prosecutors asked her to allow 22 other alleged victims of Geoghan to testify. Assistant District Attorney David Deakin argued that the other accusers will show jurors that Geoghan followed a pattern as he abused children between the early 1960s and the mid-1990s.

Geoghan is charged with two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child; each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Prosecutors say Geoghan fondled a Weymouth boy in 1995 and 1996 as the priest drove the boy, now 17, around downtown Boston.

Prosecutors say Geoghan also molested the boy in 1993 in Readville, at the christening of the alleged victim's younger sister. Geoghan had invited the boy to serve as an altar boy, prosecutors say, and fondled the boy as he was changing in the vestry.

The testimony of the other 22 alleged victims shows ''striking similarities'' in the way Geoghan preyed on children, Deakin said. Most of the alleged victims came from Catholic families who trusted him and gave him unlimited access to their children, he said. And Geoghan often took the children on outings, buying them ice cream or accompanying them to swimming pools, Deakin said.

But Geoghan's lawyer, Geoffrey Packard, urged Hinkle to prohibit Geoghan's other accusers from testifying, saying the additional witnesses would only make it more difficult for the former priest to get a fair trial.

This is the third criminal case against Geoghan. In January, he was convicted in Middlesex Superior Court of fondling a 10-year-old boy in a public swimming pool in Waltham, and sentenced to serve six years of a 9- to 10-year sentence.

The future of another Suffolk case, carrying the most serious charges against Geoghan, is still uncertain. After prosecutors charged Geoghan with two counts of raping a child in the early 1980s, Hinkle dismissed the charges in March, ruling that the alleged abuse had taken place too long ago and fell outside the statute of limitations. Prosecutors have asked Hinkle to reconsider her decision, arguing that the alleged victim was too young to remember the dates of his abuse. Hinkle hasn't yet ruled on that request.

Kathleen Burge can be reached at

This story ran on page A13 of the Boston Globe on 7/19/2002.
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