Back to homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online BostonWorks Real Estate Sports digitalMass Travel The Boston Globe Spotlight Investigation Abuse in the Catholic Church
HomePredator priestsScandal and coverupThe victimsThe financial costOpinion
Cardinal Law and the laityThe church's responseThe clergyInvestigations and lawsuits
Interactive2002 scandal overviewParish mapExtrasArchivesDocumentsAbout this site
2014 update

Crux, a Catholic news site

A new site from the Boston Globe includes news updates on clergy abuse and other Catholic issues.
 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

Geoghan, in '02, alleged guard assaulted him

By Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff, 9/20/2003

 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

In a complaint written last year, defrocked priest John J. Geoghan said a prison guard intentionally "slammed" into him as he walked in a corridor at Concord state prison. He was later disciplined after confronting the guard and accusing him of assault.

Lawyers have said that Geoghan, who was killed Aug. 23, a few months after he was transferred from MCI-Concord to the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, was abused by guards while in the medium-security facility.

This complaint, a copy of which was provided to the Globe, recounts one of those instances in Geoghan's handwriting and is the first account by Geoghan to be made public of his alleged abuse by guards.

Several inmates wrote letters before Geoghan's death to prisoner rights lawyers and relatives saying they had witnessed guards at the Concord prison abuse Geoghan, including defecating in his bed and destroying his property.

Geoghan wrote in his report that as he approached his sister, Catherine T. Geoghan, in the prison's visitor center on Sept. 5, 2002, a correction officer "passed her and with eye contact with me, veered into my path and hit me with his right shoulder, (a strong body check) which slammed my right shoulder and `spun me' around (I'm almost 70 years old)."

After the encounter, Geoghan said, he went to where his sister was sitting with another female visitor, who was there to see a different prisoner. He wrote that he exchanged a "greeting" with the other woman before turning to his sister. At that point, according to the report, a second guard warned him, "If you speak one more word to that woman, your visit is canceled!"

The first guard, who was standing nearby, "smirked and said some expletive," Geoghan wrote. "I said quietly `you assaulted me' Period!"

Geoghan was taken from the visitor center and interviewed by Sergeant Harold Wilkes, a state Department of Correction investigator, who later concluded that the former priest "did lie and make false and misleading statements regarding the actions of the Correction Officer," according to a second report provided to the Globe.

That finding resulted in Geoghan's losing canteen and visitor privileges for six weeks. Correction officials have said there were 12 disciplinary findings against Geoghan in his 14 months at the Concord prison. Those findings led to his transfer in April to Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center, where he was beaten and strangled last month. All the disciplinary reports alleged disobeying orders, except one that accused him of altering a hot plate in his cell to heat water for tea.

Geoffrey C. Packard, Geoghan's lawyer at the time, appealed the finding for the Sept. 5, 2002, incident. In a letter, Packard wrote that Wilkes "investigated by interviewing the COs [correction officers] and the inmate."

In disputing the charge, Geoghan was not permitted to call his sister as a witness, according to a lawyer familiar with the case. His request for videotape of the incident also was denied, the lawyer said.

One lawyer who works on behalf of prisoners said Geoghan's alleged statement to the guard -- "You assaulted me" -- was the kind of declaration most prisoners would avoid making, to avoid trouble.

"Most prisoners know enough to shut up," said the lawyer, who asked not to be identified, because he did not want to be seen as interfering in the Geoghan case.

Since Geoghan's death, Michael T. Maloney, commissioner of the Department of Correction, has made no public comment. The State Police and Department of Correction are conducting an investigation into Geoghan's death and the conduct of guards.

Justin Latini, a spokesman for Maloney, declined to comment yesterday. A spokesman for the union representing prison guards also declined to comment on Geoghan's report.

Authorities say Geoghan was murdered by Joseph L. Druce, a convicted murderer who was housed with Geoghan in the protective custody unit at Souza-Baranowski. Druce made his first court appearance on that charge yesterday in Worcester Superior Court.

When he was killed, Geoghan was serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for molesting a 10-year-old boy. Allegations that he sexually assaulted nearly 150 children, mostly boys, helped spark the clergy sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church.

According to Geoghan's report on the Sept. 5, 2002, incident, he was escorted to the visitor center by a guard who left him at the door with the words, "Don't stir up any trouble today," and then laughed.

By that day, Geoghan's lawyer already had written a letter to William Coalter, then the superintendent of the Concord prison. Packard wrote that two guards "have been harassing Geoghan virtually since the day he arrived."

"They have repeatedly suggested that he engages in sexual intercourse with his sister (a frail spinster in her late 60s); they have ransacked his cell in futile search for contraband and have damaged or destroyed personal items, some of a religious nature," Packard wrote.

"Most recently, they have issued Disciplinary Reports seeking major sanctions for the most petty of offenses," Packard wrote. "It is nearly impossible to read the officers' accounts without inferring that they are part of a vendetta."

Sean P. Murphy can be reached at

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy