PRIEST-ABUSE VICTIM DIES
John Geoghan, a 68-year-old defrocked priest, was strangled to death in prison August 23, 2003, by Joseph L. Druce who hated homosexuals and began plotting the attack on the child-molester priest weeks ago. Druce is serving a life term for killing a gay man 15 years ago. He cut apart a book to make a perfect tool for jamming the door of Geoghan's cell and spent time stretching the socks used in the strangling. Druce was molested as a child and harbors a searing hatred of homosexuals. He was physically abused by a clergyman as a child, according to a new report. He was previously reported to have been sexually abused by several men when he was 8 or 9. Now the Boston Herald reports that trauma was compounded by a non-sexual abusive experience with a member of the clergy.
Geoghan was convicted of indecent assault and battery for improperly touching a 10-year-old boy at a swimming pool a decade ago. He still faced two other criminal cases and 84 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual abuse of children. He was still a priest at the time of the 1991 episode. He was sentenced in February to 9 to 10 years in prison. Since 1995, more than 130 people have claimed Geoghan fondled or raped them during the three decades he served in Boston-area parishes. The Archdiocese of Boston revealed that over the years it had settled 100 civil suits against Geoghan for $15 million. Bishop William F. Murphy is named in a civil suit filed by one of Geoghan's alleged victims, accusing the new Long Island bishop of negligent supervision of Geoghan. In court documents, Bishop Murphy and others named in the civil suit have all denied liability. Laura A. Ahearn, a Stony Brook Catholic and director of Parents for Megan's Law, an advocacy group for victims of child abuse, said Bishop Murphy appeared to be taking a very defensive posture. Being in such a defensive posture makes it nearly impossible for them to seriously address the problem, Ms. Ahearn said. Any priest who commits a sex crime against a child has to be brought to justice and treated like any other sex offender, she said. And anybody who actively participates in covering up a sex crimes against a child should be held criminally responsible. She said that would include Bishop Murphy. In one of the biggest such settlements on record, the Archdiocese of Boston has agreed to divide as much as $30 million among the 86 people who accused Geoghan of molesting them or their children. Under the settlement, reached after months of negotiations, the 70 abuse victims and 16 parents would receive $15 million to $30 million. The exact amount of each award will be determined by arbitrators based on the harm each person suffered. Those who underwent the worst abuse could receive $500,000 each. Cardinal Bernard Law in a deposition rejected charges he was negligent when he failed to keep Geoghan away from children, plaintiffs in the case said. Law answered questions for two hours in pretrial testimony in a suit brought by the 86 plaintiffs accusing him and others of covering up abuse by Geoghan. The Boston Archdiocese's chief financial officer testifies yesterday that the church doesn't have the funds for the multimillion settlement. Chancellor David Smith's testimony came during the third day of a hearing to determine whether the settlement is binding. He painted a dismal picture of the church's finances, saying the archdiocese has already used more than half of a $17.5-million line of credit to pay day-to-day operating expenses. We owe $9 million of that to the bank and they've said 'no more,' Smith said.
The alleged sexual abuse victims have tentatively agreed to a $10-million settlement from the Boston Archdiocese to drop their lawsuits. The money will be divided among the 86 plaintiffs, with the bulk of the settlement - 9.3 million - going to those who say they were molested by Geoghan. Another 20 people who say Geoghan exposed himself to them will split $540,000. Sixteen parents of children who say they were abused by him will divide $160,000. The plaintiff's attorney, Mitchell Garabedian said his clients agreed to the lower figure because they want to try to put the abuse behind them.
Geoghan is now named in 17 new sexual-abuse lawsuits. Some of the lawsuits also charge several bishops, including Boston's Bernard Cardinal Law, with negligence for allowing Geoghan to continue as a priest despite repeated accusations he was molesting children. The new complaints allege that Geoghan fondled, raped and otherwise sexually abused the 17 plaintiffs while he was serving at seven parishes in and around Boston from 1964 to 1996.
One of the most outspoken Boston clergy sex-abuse victims, who said he had been molested by Geoghan, was found dead early yesterday. The cause of death of Patrick McSorley, 29, was not immediately announced. He nearly drowned in a river last year but denied he had attempted suicide. He was found in a friend's apartment in Boston's North End. McSorley criticized the Boston Archdiocese for shuffling abusive priests, including Geoghan, between parishes rather than removing them from positions where they would have contact with children.