by the investigative staff of the Boston Globe
Chapter 1 | Father Geoghan | Page 5
"Father Geoghan’s mother had put him [Dussourd’s son] in a bedroom across from Father Geoghan’s," Dussourd said. "And [he said] that three times during the night Father Geoghan had gone over to his room, and that he was making him feel very uncomfortable and he asked to go home.... He said that Father Geoghan then brought him over into his bedroom, which was across the hall.... He sat him up on his bed and he started to touch him.... He was touching my son’s genitals. He asked him to stop and he was crying. He was crying very loudly.... And he continued to ask him to take him home, which he didn’t, and after the episode was done, he returned him to his room.
"My son further told me that the next morning when they went down to breakfast that his mother questioned both Father John Geoghan and my son as to why my son was crying. She said she thought she had heard my son several times through the night." When Dussourd asked her son why he never told her about the abuse, "He said because Father Geoghan told him that I would never believe him, that I loved the Church too much, that I wouldn’t believe my own son."
Horrified, Dussourd complained to Rev. John E. Thomas, the pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, a nearby parish. Thomas confronted Geoghan with the allegations and was taken aback when Geoghan casually admitted they were true. "He said, ‘Yes, that’s all true,’" said one Church official who asked not to be named. It was as if Geoghan had been asked "if he preferred chocolate or vanilla ice cream."
Thomas promptly drove to the chancery, the archdiocesan headquarters in Brighton, to notify Bishop Thomas V. Daily, administrator of the archdiocese. In Thomas’s presence that Saturday afternoon, February 9, 1980, Daily telephoned Geoghan at St. Andrew’s and, in a brief conversation, delivered a curt directive: "Go home," the official said.
Geoghan protested, saying there was no one else to celebrate the 4 p.m. Mass.
"I’ll say the Mass myself," Daily insisted. "Go home."
Geoghan disappeared from the parish.
Several weeks later a contrite Thomas came to Dussourd’s apartment. He told her that Geoghan had admitted to abusing the boys but had excused his behavior by telling the pastor, "It was only two families." Thomas later pleaded with Dussourd not to follow through on her threat to go public, she said. He cited the years Geoghan had spent studying for the priesthood, and the consequences for Geoghan if the accusations against him were publicized.
"Do you realize what you’re taking from him?" Dussourd said Thomas asked her.
Geoghan spent the next year—from early 1980 to early 1981—on sick leave, but living with his mother in West Roxbury. In February 1981, he was sent to his fifth parish, St. Brendan’s, in the Dorchester section of Boston. And almost immediately, Geoghan was working with first communicants, befriending children and their parents, even taking some boys to his family’s summer home in Scituate.
There, at the Geoghan family home on the Atlantic Ocean, parents would later discover, Geoghan’s sexual attacks continued.
Church officials knew about Geoghan’s pedophilia. He was shuttled from parish to parish to avoid public scandal. There were whispers in the rectories about his affliction. There were memos about his treatment. But the details about the predator priest—common knowledge to some of his colleagues—were a closely held secret to be kept from the parishioners who welcomed him into their homes.
When Rev. William C. Francis was asked in 2001 what he knew about Geoghan, he explained, "Well, when he was removed from St. Brendan’s in Dorchester, there was talk that he had been fooling around with kids."
Francis’s simple reply belied the explosive substance of the gossip in the rectories. Indeed, Geoghan’s long history of treatment, denial, and recidivism had already begun by the late 1960s, and perhaps even earlier. A. W. Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and former priest, said Geoghan received treatment for sex abuse at the Seton Institute in Baltimore, where Sipe then worked. That treatment occurred about the same time that Leonard Muzzi Jr. discovered Geoghan in his Hingham home at the bedside of his son. Geoghan’s hands were under the blankets. Muzzi ordered Geoghan out of his house and told him never to return. But a few nights later, Geoghan was back sitting on Muzzi’s couch with his three children.
That sort of brazen conduct was frequently reflected in Geoghan’s discussions with those who evaluated and treated him at a series of inpatient treatment centers. The priest would admit to sexual abuse. But Geoghan was apparently unable to see why his sexual assaults would have a serious effect on his priestly career. He would advise a young boy on the eve of his first Holy Communion and then take him into his shower at home, where he would fondle the boy until he ejaculated. And Geoghan, who was also accused of fondling a young boy in the bleachers at Fenway Park while watching a Boston Red Sox game, had a ready explanation for the avalanche of allegations that built up against him over the years: It was the children’s fault.
"While I was at St. Andrew’s, many of the youngsters I was involved with were from troubled homes," he said. "I recalled these two boys and I remembered their home situation. Both were severely disturbed children under treatment at various hospitals and clinics, both admitting to sexual abuse at the hands of anyone: doctors, teachers, friends. Anyone! I don’t think they were able to distinquish between normal and abnormal, good or bad, right or wrong."
And as the years wore on, the same could be said for Geoghan’s superiors in the Church. The man whose uncle had helped smooth his path to the priesthood expected help from above. He would pick up the phone or write a letter, seeking an intercession. Rarely was he disappointed.
Rev. Francis H. Delaney, a pastor at one of the churches Geoghan served, deflected allegations against his associate pastor in 1979 by questioning the credibility of his accuser. Geoghan, Delaney maintained, was "an outstanding, dedicated priest who is doing superior work" and "a zealous man of prayer who consistently gives of himself in furthering the cause of Christ." This was the same Francis Delaney who, while living in the rectory with Geoghan, once asked his housekeeper about the young voices he heard upstairs. "And the housekeeper, whoever that was, said that Father Geoghan had some urchins up there letting them use the shower, so I confronted him on that and said, ‘You know the rule.’ And he denied it vehemently, but I had no proof," Delaney said.