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 Latest coverage

October 25
Victims could now collect

October 2
Geoghan's sister hits guards

October 1
Geoghan's sister to speak

September 27
Conviction erasure protested
Druce is hospitalized again
Guard ad seeks understanding

September 24
Inquiry: Druce beaten as child

September 20
Druce pleads not guilty in slay
Geoghan claims guard assault

September 14
Report says Druce in a rage

September 13
Letter: Druce abused as a boy

September 12
Geoghan bore guards' abuse
Lawyer: Mail deluges accused

September 11
Expanded panel is sought

September 8
Druce is returned from hospital

September 5
Geoghan consultant ties eyed

September 4
Conflict raised on consultant

September 3
Bias concerns raised in probe

September 2
No new panel members seen

August 31
Geoghan panel to expand

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

A troubled life spent exploiting vocation

By Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff, 8/24/2003

 Related stories
Geoghan killed
Geoghan's sister criticizes guards

Geoghan's sister to speak

Victims protest conviction erasure
Druce is hospitalized again
Guards' ad seeks understanding

Inquiry: Druce beaten as a child

Druce pleads not guilty to killing
Geoghan claimed guard assault

Report describes Druce in a rage

Letter says Druce abused as boy

Inmate: Geoghan bore abuse
Lawyer: Mail deluging accused

Expanded Geoghan panel sought

Druce is returned from hospital

McNamara: A back-page death

Geoghan consultant's ties eyed
McGrory: Romney can do better

Conflict issue raised on consultant

Bias concerns are raised in probe

No new members seen for panel

Geoghan panel will be expanded

Group assails prison guards
Geoghan is buried in Brookline
Op-Ed: Geoghan's 'innocence'

Priest in 'aggressive' case unit
Records show Druce as deviant
Voiding of record is challenged

Bid to keep Geoghan at Concord
Geoghan's death voids conviction
Prison units see volatile mixes
US attorney won't rush decision

Monthlong plot to kill Geoghan
Alleged killer led troubled life

Geoghan was tied and beaten
Death doesn't end victim suffering
Similiarities in suspect's '88 crime
Priest seen as a prison target

Geoghan is strangled in prison
A troubled life exploiting vocation

Geoghan case letters, documents
Law deposition in Geoghan case

 From the archives
Key stories in the Geoghan case

Church allowed abuse for years

Geoghan found guilty of sex abuse

Geoghan receives 9-10 years

Law recalls little on Geoghan case

Geoghan victims settle for $10m

 Complete coverage
The John Geoghan case

John Geoghan's death yesterday was a violent close to a life that was troubled from the moment the West Roxbury native started down the path toward a priesthood in which he relentlessly exploited the prestige of his collar to prey on children.

His earliest superiors considered Geoghan, then a 19-year-old seminarian, immature, emotionally distant, and a problem student. They wondered whether he would ever be ordained.

But Geoghan, in a pattern that would repeat itself for more than 30 years, learned that he could count on the help of his superiors.

His uncle, the late Monsignor Mark H. Keohane, intervened on his nephew's behalf and smoothed the way for Geoghan's ordination and, ultimately, a priestly life in which his attacks on boys became one of the most closely guarded secrets held by the leaders of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The assaults, and the church's reaction to them, would ultimately drive Geoghan from the priesthood and into prison, help force the resignation of Cardinal Bernard F. Law last year, and become a key element in the sexual abuse scandal that has been called the worst crisis in the history of the US Catholic Church.

As church officials offered prayers for ''the repose of John's soul'' and extended sympathies to his sister, Catherine, some of Geoghan's victims, recalling the smiling young cleric who lured them to his rectory bedroom, offered no condolences.

''Wow,'' said Frank Leary when he was told of Geoghan's death yesterday. Then he firmly added, ''Good.''

Leary, the fifth of six children raised by a single mother, was 13 years old when he first encountered Geoghan in 1974 outside the rectory of St. Andrew's Church in Jamaica Plain.

Leary said Geoghan offered him lemonade on a hot August day and then insisted that the boy come upstairs to his room in the rectory to see the priest's stamp collection.

''He was touching me, fondling me,'' Leary recalled in an interview last year. ''I'm frozen. I didn't know what the hell was going on.''

But Geoghan's superiors did.

They received complaints about his abuse. They sent him to treatment centers, where three times Geoghan was clinically classified a pedophile. But, armed with doctors' recommendations and clean bills of health, they sent him back into parishes where he had access to boys.

Especially in families where the father was not present, Geoghan would show up at bedtime to tuck children into their beds and read them stories.

''It was not the intention of these innocent youths to arouse me,'' Geoghan said in one of his psychiatric evaluations. ''They were just happy to have a father figure with their own father being so angry and distant from them.''

Some fellow priests found him distant, not the kind of rectory companion they could warm up to.

''I found him different, I must say,'' the Rev. Thomas W. Moriarty, who was pastor of St. Paul's Church in Hingham, where Geoghan served from 1967 to 1974, said in a 2001 deposition.

''I mean, I just didn't know how to react to him. He was different . . . something is wrong,'' said Moriarty.

By the mid-1990s, as police and prosecutors began to close in on Geoghan, top diocesan officials had finally conceded that he was an incurable child molester. ''A pedophile, a liar, a manipulator,'' the Rev. Brian M. Flatley, a top lieutentant to Law, pronounced him.

In the summer of 1998, Law revealed that he had defrocked Geoghan, who by then had been accused of sexually molesting more than 50 children over three decades. The extraordinary punitive move was sanctioned by Pope John Paul II.

''This man can never again present himself as a priest,'' Law said. The cardinal said he personally informed Geoghan of his defrocking. ''He understood the decision and the ramifications of it,'' he said.

Stripped of his priesthood, Geoghan lost his freedom early last year after he was convicted of indecently touching a 10-year-old boy at a public pool a decade ago.

''Where am I going now?'' Geoghan asked as he was being led out of the courtroom after his conviction in January 2002.

The priest was going to prison in Concord. By then, he was accused of molesting nearly 150 children since the 1960s.

After the verdict was returned, some of Geoghan's victims celebrated in the hallway.

''This is a moment of joy for me,'' said Mark Keane. ''He's a sick man.''

Keane and other victims smiled as Geoghan, the personification of Boston's massive clergy abuse crisis, was led away for his new life behind bars.

''His was the most flamboyant case of serial sexual molestation by a clergyman, and the way he got passed on from one parish to another became the image of what not to do,'' said Stephen J. Pope, an associate professor of theology at Boston College. ''The name John Geoghan now stands as a symbol for the sexual abuse of clergy and the hierarchy not taking precautions against sexual abuse.''

Globe staff writer Michael Paulson contributed to this story. Thomas Farragher can be reached at

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