Tags: Defrocked | Priest | Gets | Years | for | Molestation

Defrocked Priest Gets 9 Years for Molestation

Thursday, 21 February 2002 12:00 AM

The judge emphasized she was not sentencing John J. Geoghan, 66, as an emotional response to a controversy involving priests molesting children, but for his conviction last month of indecent assault and battery for inappropriately touching the 10-year-old boy's buttocks under his swimsuit.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Sandra Hamlin said that while she was aware of the publicity swirling around pedophilia priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, Geoghan was "not being punished for them," but for "his conduct, for his actions."

Geoghan, who shook his head occasionally during the sentencing hearing in Cambridge, Mass., was led out of the courtroom to state prison. He will be eligible for parole in six years, after which he will be on probation for the rest of his life.

In sentencing Geoghan, Hamlin said she took into consideration his own admissions of prior incidents where he molested other children, evidence that was not allowed to be introduced at his trial.

She said that Geoghan violated the trust and authority of his position as a priest, and she found it significant that evidence she considered "shows that this was not the first time" for this kind of "reprehensible" behavior.

This was the first of three criminal trials for Geoghan, who has been accused of molesting 130 children while serving in Boston-area parishes over three decades. He also faces 80 civil lawsuits.

"This court has no doubt that he is dangerous" to boys, the judge said, adding that she has the responsibility to "protect the public from further activity."

She also said that Geoghan, when confronted, denied he had a problem.

"He absolutely refuses to accept any responsibility for his sexual molestation," she said. "He doesn't believe he needs any sex offender treatment."

In arguing for a lesser sentence of intensive probation, defense attorney Geoffrey Packard said that though Geoghan has become a "poster boy" for the issue of priest pedophilia, "he performed his priestly duties well" for 35 years and "was by many accounts an excellent priest."

"Being a good priest doesn't excuse molesting a young boy," the judge said.

Prosecutors had recommended the maximum sentence.

"This defendant, quite simply, is a danger to the public" and "represents a danger to all boys" in the state, Assistant District Attorney Lynne Rooney argued.

Rooney also said that though the crime for which he was convicted was "not the most egregious crime," there was a "mountain of evidence" of other molestations that support a lengthy sentence.

She added that he had "no ability" to control his behavior.

Geoghan's second criminal trial was scheduled to begin today in Boston, but his attorneys were trying to get those child rape charges thrown out. They argued at a hearing Wednesday the statute of limitations in the case has expired. That hearing was to resume Friday morning in Suffolk County Superior Court. In that case, Geoghan was accused of fondling a 7-year-old boy in the early 1980s.

After Geoghan's conviction, Cardinal Bernard Law last month turned over to district attorneys for possible criminal prosecution the names of more than 80 current and former priests suspected of child sexual abuse over the past four decades.

In addition, the archdiocese announced late Wednesday it had removed from parish duty a priest in Abington, Mass., after it received information from an anonymous source of "allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor."

The archdiocese said it took the action against the Rev. Joseph L. Welsh, 59, in accordance with its "zero tolerance" policy regarding clergy misconduct.

Welsh was the ninth active priest in the archdiocese to be ousted from duty this month on such charges.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The judge emphasized she was not sentencing John J. Geoghan, 66, as an emotional response to a controversy involving priests molesting children, but for his conviction last month of indecent assault and battery for inappropriately touching the 10-year-old boy's buttocks...
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2002-00-21
Thursday, 21 February 2002 12:00 AM
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