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Spotlight Report

Alleged Geoghan victim testifies

By Kathleen Burge, Globe Staff, 2/21/2002

He was suicidal, struggling in school, and had molested his younger brother when the boy's mother begged him to tell her what was wrong. The boy finally told her a secret he'd kept for years: a neighborhood priest had molested him.

By the time the alleged victim, now 27, took the witness stand in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday to tell that story, the name of the man he accused, defrocked priest and convicted pedophile John Geoghan, was no longer shocking. The boy and his mother told a judge a now-familiar story: Geoghan had befriended the young man, then a child, in the early 1980s by treating him to ice cream, taking him swimming, driving him to the priest's mother's house in West Roxbury, then fondling and raping him.

The alleged victim testified at a hearing in Suffolk Superior Court as a witness for prosecutors who are fighting a motion by Geoghan's lawyer, Geoffrey Packard, to have criminal charges stemming from those allegations dismissed. Geoghan, Packard argues, should not face two charges of child rape involving the young man because Geoghan was indicted by a grand jury for those crimes in 1999, after the then-10-year statute of limitations had expired.

Suffolk County prosecutor David Deakin said that although the alleged victim first reported in 1986 that Geoghan had fondled him, he didn't report the rape until 1989. Since Geoghan is facing trial for the rape allegations, and not for allegedly fondling the victim, prosecutors argued that the statute of limitations should be assessed from 1989, not 1986.

Even if the judge agrees with Packard, however, prosecutors argue that they're still covered: They maintain that the statute of limitations clock should have been stopped during Geoghan's out-of-state trips for psychological treatment.

Whether Judge Margaret Hinkle decides to dismiss the case will depend on her interpretation of the statute, which has changed at least twice since the alleged victim went to police.

Geoghan walked into court yesterday in handcuffs and leg irons, smiling at his sister, Catherine.

The hearing will resume tomorrow. Geoghan, who was convicted last month of indecently touching a 10-year-old boy in the early 1990s, will be sentenced for that crime today by Middlesex Judge Sandra Hamlin.

At the hearing, the alleged victim's mother told Hinkle that Geoghan would show up at her home unannounced and ask to take her son, then about 7, to the ice cream parlor or the swimming pool. Later, he began to arrive after her son's 8 p.m. bedtime. After he had visited her son in his bedroom a few times, the mother asked the priest to stop. "I was very uncomfortable with him being there after [the boy] went to bed," she said yesterday.

Geoghan never visited the family again, she testified.

The alleged victim told Hinkle that he told his mother about Geoghan's abuse several years later as he struggled with his own problems in school and at home. "I was getting in trouble in school a lot and I ended up molesting my brother," he said.

The hearing also showed that Suffolk prosecutors will face the same kinds of inconsistencies in testimony that Middlesex prosecutors had last month at Geoghan's first criminal trial.

Yesterday, for instance, the alleged victim recalled that he told his mother about all of the abuse, including the rapes, when he first said that he had been abused. His mother and prosecutors say the boy told her first about the fondling and later about the rape.

Kathleen Burge can be reached at kburge@globe.com

This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 2/21/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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