Accusers' accounts tell of abuse and its scars
By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 1/26/2002
ew evidence in the lawsuits against convicted child molester John J. Geoghan and leaders of the Boston Archdiocese provides chilling accounts of the former priest's alleged sexual abuse of children -- both boys and girls -- and the long-term trauma they say they suffered.
The sworn statements by Geoghan's accusers, made in response to questions by lawyers for Cardinal Bernard Law and church officials, also provide more evidence that the church knew of Geoghan's sexual compulsions in the early 1970s and possibly the late 1960s.
In one of the statements, Francis Leary of Roslindale said Geoghan repeatedly abused him in 1974 after encouraging him to take a job doing yard work at St. Andrew's Church in Jamaica Plain -- in once instance ordering him to recite a prayer, the Hail Mary, while molesting him.
"I also remember that Father Geoghan told me that I was special and that I should not tell my mother about what he had been doing to me," he said.
In other instances, parish officials allegedly witnessed Geoghan and Leary together in the church rectory -- once while Geoghan was sexually abusing the child.
"I recall that on one occasion when Father Geoghan led me up to his room, an older nun was standing on the bottom of the stairs," he said. "I also recall that on another occasion when I was in Father Geoghan's room, a priest with gray or white hair came into the room and told Father Geoghan to stop molesting me. I do not know this priest's name."
Leonard Muzzi Jr., in a separate sworn statement, said that in the late 1960s he discovered Geoghan in his Hingham home at the bedside of his son, with his hands under the blankets. Muzzi said he ordered Geoghan out of his house and told him to never return, only to arrive home on a subsequent evening and find Geoghan sitting on his couch with his three children.
At that point, Muzzi said, he called St. Paul's Church, where Geoghan was assigned, asked for the person in charge, and "told this person that he had caught Father Geoghan with his hands under his son's" bedclothes.
In sworn statements of their own, Geoghan's superiors at St. Paul's said they could not recall any such complaint made about Geoghan in the late 1960s. But Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist, told the Globe that Geoghan received treatment for sex abuse at the Seton Institute in Baltimore at about that time. Sipe was on staff at the institute but did not treat Geoghan.
Geoghan's pastor at St. Andrew's, Rev. Francis H. Delaney, also said under oath that he could not recall anyone making a sexual abuse complaint against Geoghan.
But when a lawyer for Geoghan's accusers showed Delaney a copy of a letter the pastor had written describing such a complaint, Delaney's memory was refreshed.
In the August 1979 letter to Bishop Thomas V. Daily, administrator of the archdiocese, Delaney reported that a Jamaica Plain woman had made "serious charges of a moral nature" against Geoghan and another priest, but also attacked the woman's credibility.
Delaney said the charges were not to be believed, describing Geoghan as "an outstanding, dedicated priest who is doing superior work" and as "a zealous man of prayer who consistently gives of himself in furthering the cause of Christ."
In one case, Dolores Scott, who lived with her three sons and three daughters in the Archdale housing development in Roslindale during the mid-1970s, said she first encountered Geoghan through a boy who now says the former priest had molested him.
One of Scott's daughters, Leona, said in a statement that Geoghan exposed himself to her and her half-sister while sitting with them on the couch in their living room in 1975.
"Father Geoghan's pants were open and his penis was exposed and he was masturbating," Leona Scott said in her statement. While he was doing this, she added, Geoghan asked "if her brothers took baths together and washed each other."
Dolores Scott, Leona's mother, said that the first time she saw Geoghan, he was sitting in a car with Peter Mendez on a street near the Archdale development. Mendez, an altar boy at St. Andrew's, introduced her to Geoghan, Scott said, and before long Geoghan was a routine presence in her home.
At one point, Scott said, Geoghan told her that he was teaching her sons about puberty "and that they should know what was happening to their bodies."
But she said she had no idea that he was exposing himself to her daughters and abusing her three sons. Nor did she know that Geoghan was also abusing Mendez, she said.
In his own statement, Mendez said Geoghan would often invite him into the church rectory and fondle his buttocks and genitals while wrestling with him and bouncing him on his lap.
In one instance, Mendez said that Geoghan, while hearing his confession, asked if the altar boy had sexual relations with his sister or brother.
Mendez also said that Geoghan, while visiting his home, watched while he and his brother took baths. He also said that Geoghan once took a shower with the boys, had them compare body parts, and told them not to tell their mother about the incident.
Many of Geoghan's accusers said they had suffered long-term emotional trauma because of Geoghan. For instance, Leary, who was abused as a 12-year-old at St. Andrew's, later married and started a family. But after years of emotional difficulties, he suffered a 1999 nervous breakdown and lost his job.
"I was evicted and had to sleep in a friend's garage," Leary said. "I became homeless and had to give my wife custody of my son." In a seven-page evaluation, Leary's psychiatrist attributed the breakdown to abuse by Geoghan.
Yesterday, in a related development, Boston police spokeswoman Mariellen Burns said that police had received no communication from the Archdiocese, or from any church official, during the mid-1980s when the police Sexual Assault Unit investigated Geoghan for allegedly fondling or molesting two youths.
Burns said police decided not to go forward with prosecution because the parents of the victims said they would not cooperate.
Sacha Pfeiffer and Stephen Kurkjian of the Globe staff contributed to this story.
This story ran on page A12 of the Boston Globe on 1/26/2002.