The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


At first, bishop urged rest for Geoghan

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff, 2/15/2003

In 1979, after John J. Geoghan had been accused of sexually abusing a child in his Forest Hills parish, the top administrator in the Archdiocese of Boston suggested that Geoghan take a sabbatical in Rome. The official, Bishop Thomas V. Daily, concluded that Geoghan, quickly cleared of the abuse by church administrators, could use some time away.

''I felt that he had been through a traumatic experience because of the letters and accusations, etc., and that it was needed for him,'' Daily said in pretrial testimony taken last June and released yesterday. ''It would have been helpful to him. That was the idea. I guess I said euphemistically to get his spiritual act together.''

During the deposition, Daily also said he regretted some of his decisions as the former top administrator in the archdiocese and should have done more to investigate charges of sexual abuse against priests. In March 2002, Daily, now bishop of the Brooklyn, N.Y., Diocese, released a six-page statement expressing regret for decisions he made in Boston and urging victims to come forward.

Church records show that Daily played a central role in moving Geoghan from parish to parish after church officials learned the priest had been accused of molesting children. Daily was then a deputy to Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros and later Cardinal Bernard F. Law.

''I felt that I could have asked more questions, more investigation,'' Daily said in the deposition. ''Had I done that, maybe the results would have been different, but at the time, I was using, from my point of view, the investigation[s] that were in place and according to my own judgment.''

He suggested Geoghan seek the Rome sabbatical, granted to two or three priests from among the roughly 800 in the archdiocese. Geoghan eventually made the trip in 1982, just after relatives of other alleged victims met with Daily to demand that Geoghan be removed from ministry.

The documents filed yesterday also included a 1979 letter from Geoghan, then associate pastor of St. Andrew's Parish in Forest Hills, thanking Daily for his support during the early accusations of abuse.

''I am most grateful for your warm personal letter, assuring me that my reputation as a `good priest' is still intact, despite the best efforts of our neighbor!'' Geoghan wrote.

Geoghan was suspended from active ministry in 1994 and later defrocked. In January 2002, he was convicted of molesting a boy in a public swimming pool and sentenced to serve six years of a nine- to 10-year prison term.

The deposition of Daily was taken as part of 84 lawsuits brought by sexual abuse victims of Geoghan. The victims settled their lawsuits with the Archdiocese of Boston last September for $10 million.

Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney ruled that the deposition should be released after news organizations requested access.

The lawyer for the Geoghan victims, Mitchell Garabedian, who filed the transcript in court, said Daily's words offer further proof that he and other church officials cared little about the priest's victims.

''My clients believe that Bishop Daily was much more concerned about protecting the Archdiocese of Boston against scandal,'' he said, ''than protecting innocent children and their families from clergy sexual abuse.''

Kathleen Burge can be reached at

This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 2/15/2003.
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