The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Geoghan's death doesn't end suffering, abuse victims say

Now, charges won't be heard

By Ron DePasquale, Globe Correspondent, 8/25/2003

The death of defrocked priest John J. Geoghan left most of his victims saddened and frustrated, unable to air their charges in criminal court, an attorney for 147 Geoghan accusers said yesterday.

"They're not happy about this," attorney Mitchell Garabedian said at a news conference at his Boston office, where he was joined by two alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse. "This is not going to help victims heal. They feel as though this has reopened wounds, that they did not need this figurative salt in their wounds."

There was no mention of Geoghan yesterday during Mass celebrated by Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley at St. Rose of Lima in Chelsea, but prayers were offered for Geoghan elsewhere in the archdiocese.

Such prayers were "in poor taste," Michael Linscott, 45, an alleged victim of Geoghan, said at the news conference.

The news that Geoghan was beaten and strangled in prison on Saturday was still sinking in, Linscott said. He said his initial reaction was mixed, one of relief and sadness.

"I did have that moment of, `You know what, he got what he deserved,' but at the same time, a lot of people are still suffering, and this hasn't changed that," he said.

Linscott, who said he was abused by Geoghan while he was a young parishioner at St. Paul's in Hingham, said Geoghan's death did not bring him a sense of closure. "As victims, we'll all live in our own prison for the rest of our lives, and he got out of his," Linscott said. "He got off easy."

Garabedian said he was still "shocked, stunned, and surprised," as were his clients, by the slaying, which occurred in the protective custody wing of the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Corrections Center. He said he believed he had collected enough information about Geoghan for a civil trial.

Garabedian represents 26 alleged Geoghan victims in settlement talks between lawyers of 542 plaintiffs and the Archdiocese of Boston. The archdiocese offered $65 million last week. Garabedian reached a $10 million settlement last year with the archdiocese for 86 plaintiffs, after the archdiocese pulled out of a settlement worth up to $30 million. Another 35 cases were previously settled.

The attorney said it took the Geoghan victims to get the country's attention and expose widespread abuse and coverups throughout the Catholic Church.

"They were courageous for coming forward and making statements," Garabedian said.

Parishioners at St. Rose of Lima struggled for words when offering their views on the death of Geoghan, who had served 18 months of a nine-to-10-year sentence for fondling a 10-year-old boy and was expected to face more criminal charges of sexually abusing minors.

"He hadn't been brought to complete justice, and I think the victims deserved the satisfaction that all their charges were heard and acted upon," said Regina, a parishioner who did not give her last name. "That's a tragedy. I think we're all concerned more for the victims than we were for him."

John King, 40, a victim of convicted child molester the Rev. Ronald Paquin, said at Garabedian's news conference that he found nothing positive in Geoghan's death.

King said abusive priests in prison should be protected and rehabilitated so they can realize the harm they have caused.

"I live with this every day," said King, who said he was abused at 13, when Paquin was a priest working with youths at St. Monica's in Methuen. "I want their supervisors to live with this every day. I wanted John Geoghan to live with this every day."

For complete coverage of the priest abuse scandal, go to