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Priest in abuse scandal killed in prison

Aug. 23, 2003 • Saturday August 23, 2003

Geoghan serving sentence for molesting boy in 1991

(CNN/AP) — John Geoghan, a defrocked Roman Catholic priest and convicted child molester, has been killed in prison, a Massachusetts public safety spokesman told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Geoghan was injured during an incident with another inmate about noon and died shortly after being taken to Leominster Hospital, Department Of Public Safety spokesman David Shaw said.

The other inmate had been isolated and the incident is being investigated, the AP reported.

Geoghan became a central figure in the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. He was found guilty in January 2002 of molesting a boy in a swimming pool a decade earlier and sentenced to nine to 10 years in prison.

More than 130 people have accused him of sexual abuse during his 30-year career in six parishes. Geoghan was defrocked in 1998.

The Catholic Church paid millions of dollars from civil suits filed in connection with Geoghan. The church is still dealing with a settlement for others who say they were abused.

Earlier this month, a group rejected a settlement offer of $55 million from the Boston Archdiocese.

The 2002 verdict pertained only to one case, in which he was charged with indecent assault and battery against a 10-year-old boy. The boy was a college student when he testified that Geoghan reached under his swimming suit and grabbed his buttocks while the two were in a pool at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club in 1991.

Geoghan’s defense was that he touched the boy only to help him out of the pool.

A psychiatrist testified that Geoghan acknowledged having sexual fantasies about children.

“We discussed his ability to control his sexual fantasies and his sexual feelings about women and boys,” testified Dr. Edward Messner, a Boston-based psychiatrist who said he treated Geoghan between December 1994 and July 1996.

Also during the trial, jurors in Middlesex County Superior Court heard from Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, who once oversaw the Boston area.

In 1991, Hughes testified, he forbade Geoghan from going to the swimming club after a friend of the boy’s family complained to the church.

Hughes said he made that decision based on a report that Geoghan had been proselytizing at the pool there and had conversations that could be interpreted as “prurient.”

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