The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Judge reinstates 2 Geoghan charges

Question on statute of limitations to be decided by a jury

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff, 8/31/2002

A judge who reinstated two charges of child rape against defrocked priest John J. Geoghan this week reversed her earlier decision because she believed a jury, not a judge, should decide whether prosecutors waited too long to indict Geoghan.

Judge Margaret Hinkle ruled Wednesday that the charges should be reinstated, but her written decision was not released until yesterday. Hinkle had dismissed the two charges in March, ruling that the statute of limitations had expired.

But in her latest decision, Hinkle said it would be possible for a jury to decide that Geoghan was indicted before the statute of limitations ran out. The technical calculation about the statute hinges on whether the alleged victim was correct when he testified earlier this year that he told officers in 1986 that Geoghan had orally raped him, placing Geoghan's 1999 indictment outside the statute of limitations.

Other witnesses testified, and prosecutors argued, that the alleged victim didn't report the rape until 1989, meaning that Geoghan was indicted before the statute of limitations expired.

Yesterday, the mother of the alleged victim said she was gratified by Hinkle's decision.

''I feel that maybe now my son can finally tell what happened to him by Geoghan and be able to start putting his life back together,'' she said. ''At least now we might be able to get justice.''

Also yesterday, lawyers who argued before Judge Constance M. Sweeney earlier this month about whether they had reached an agreement to settle the scores of civil suits filed against Geoghan and the Archdiocese of Boston filed court papers recapping their arguments.

Lawyers for 86 alleged Geoghan victims argued that they had reached a binding agreement with archdiocese officials in early March.

Lawyers for the church officials say the agreement was only a tentative first step that they had to abandon because it was too expensive.

Kathleen Burge can be reached by e - mail at

This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 8/31/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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