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Inmate accused in Geoghan slaying tells of abuse

Contends trauma led to uncontrollable rage

WORCESTER -- The inmate accused of killing pedophile priest John Geoghan took the witness stand yesterday, describing years of childhood sexual and physical abuse that his lawyers said helped drive an uncontrollable rage that led to the slaying.

Joseph Druce referred to killing the dismissed priest only once during his hourlong testimony, after describing being raped by a staff member at a residential school he attended as a boy.

''That's what triggered me . . . I heard them talking about" abuse, he said.

Druce's lawyers don't dispute that he killed Geoghan, a central figure in the Catholic Church's clergy sex-abuse scandal, but they say he was suffering from severe mental illness and should not be convicted. Druce, 40, told investigators he killed Geoghan in his prison cell in August 2003 to stop him from molesting more children. Earlier Friday, as Druce was being escorted out of the courtroom, he shouted: ''God save all the innocent kids."

At the time of his death, Geoghan was serving a 9- to 10-year prison sentence for fondling a 10-year-old boy, but he was accused in lawsuits of sexually abusing some 150 children over three decades in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Druce had gone to the residential school from ages 8 to 13. He said two staff members there regularly sexually and physically abused him -- spanking him, locking him in a closet, and holding his head under water.

''Between the two of them . . . once a week," he said, when asked by his lawyer how often he was sexually abused at the school.

Druce also said he was raped three times by a 26-year-old male friend with whom his mother had sent him to live when he was 13.

''I didn't let it happen. I couldn't stop it," he said.

Druce looked down and hesitated before continuing.

''Why I stayed his friend for another five years, I don't know," he said.

Druce, who is already serving a life sentence for killing a man he suspected of making a pass at him, was expected to resume his testimony Monday.

A defense psychiatrist testified yesterday that Druce was suffering from several mental illnesses and was unable to control his rage.

Keith Ablow of New England Medical Center said Druce suffered greatly during his childhood, including beatings from his father and repeated rapes by several people he trusted.

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