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Church allowed abuse by priest for years


Logo panic

Don't fight the system.
Go in the system and take them down on their own faults.

Alle acties komend uit wraak of ego zullen mislukken.
Alleen acties vanuit een hart en ziel zullen slagen.

In deze blog geef ik mijn zienswijze van de huidige wereld weer. 
Ik beroep me op het recht die geldt vanuit het Universum, namelijk: Het recht van respect naar elke energievorm in het Universum. In de menselijke wetten is het omschreven in het UVRM als zijnde: Artikel 1 Alle mensen worden vrij en gelijk in waardigheid en rechten geboren. Zij zijn begiftigd met verstand en geweten, en behoren
zich jegens elkander in een geest van broederschap te gedragen. In de reeds niet meer geldende Nederlandse grondwet staat het beschreven als zijnde: Artikel 1 Allen die zich in Nederland bevinden, worden in gelijke gevallen gelijk behandeld. Discriminatie wegens godsdienst, levensovertuiging, politieke gezindheid,
ras, geslacht of op welke grond dan ook, is niet toegestaan.

Church allowed abuse by priest for years
Aware of Geoghan record, archdiocese still shuttled him from parish to parish

Former priest John J. Geoghan leaving his family home in Scituate in November.

Boston Globe1

Former priest John J. Geoghan leaving his family home in Scituate in November.

Read more from the 2002 Boston Globe report on the Catholic Church abuse crisis.

This article was prepared by the Globe Spotlight Team: reporters Matt Carroll, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Michael Rezendes; and editor Walter V. Robinson. It was written by Rezendes.

Since the mid-1990s, more than 130 people have come forward with horrific childhood tales about how former priest John J. Geoghan allegedly fondled or raped them during a three-decade spree through a half-dozen Greater Boston parishes.

Almost always, his victims were grammar school boys. One was just 4 years old.

Then came last July’s disclosure that Cardinal Bernard F. Law knew about Geoghan’s problems in 1984, Law’s first year in Boston, yet approved his transfer to St. Julia’s parish in Weston. Wilson D. Rogers Jr., the cardinal’s attorney, defended the move last summer, saying the archdiocese had medical assurances that each Geoghan reassignment was “appropriate and safe.”

But one of Law’s bishops thought that the 1984 assignment of Geoghan to St. Julia’s was so risky, he wrote the cardinal a letter in protest. And for good reason, the Spotlight Team found: The archdiocese already had substantial evidence of Geoghan’s predatory sexual habits. That included his assertion in 1980 that his repeated abuse of seven boys in one extended family was not a “serious” problem, according to an archdiocesan record.

The St. Julia’s assignment proved disastrous. Geoghan was put in charge of three youth groups, including altar boys. In 1989, he was forced to go on sick leave after more complaints of sexual abuse, and spent months in two institutions that treat sexually abusive priests. Even so, the archdiocese returned him to St. Julia’s, where Geoghan continued to abuse children for another three years.
View Graphic
Timeline of key Spotlight report stories

The Globe’s Spotlight report on the sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church caused sweeping reforms and inspired the new movie “Spotlight.” Here’s a look at some of the stories that shaped the investigation.

Now, as Geoghan faces the first of two criminal trials next week, details about his sexual compulsion are likely to be overshadowed by a question that many Catholics find even more troubling: Why did it take a succession of three cardinals and many bishops 34 years to place children out of Geoghan’s reach?

Donna Morrissey, a spokeswoman for Law, said the cardinal and other church officials would not respond to questions about Geoghan. Morrissey said the church had no interest in knowing what the Globe’s questions would be.

Before Geoghan ever got to Weston in 1984, he had already been treated several times and hospitalized at least once for molesting boys. And he had been removed from at least two parishes for sexual abuse. In 1980, for instance, he was ordered out of St. Andrew’s in Jamaica Plain after casually admitting he had molested the seven boys.

In 1981, after a year’s sick leave, Geoghan was dispatched to St. Brendan’s in Dorchester, with little chance he would be placed under scrutiny: His pastor for most of his 3 1/2 years there, the Rev. James H. Lane, has told friends he was never warned that Geoghan had a history of sex abuse.

In September 1984, complaints that Geoghan had abused children at the Dorchester parish prompted Law to remove him. Two months later, the cardinal gave Geoghan a fresh start at St. Julia’s.

Law allowed Geoghan to stay in Weston for more than eight years before removing him from parish duty in 1993. But even that decision to recast Geoghan as a functionary at a home for retired priests did not prevent him from seeking out and molesting children, according to the multiple civil suits and criminal charges filed against the 66-year-old Geoghan.

Finally, in 1998, the church “defrocked” Geoghan, removing him from the priesthood.

Geoghan’s criminal defense attorney, Geoffrey Packard, said his client would have no comment on any of the allegations against him. Geoghan’s first trial on sexual molestation charges is scheduled for Jan. 14 in Middlesex Superior Court. The second, more serious set of charges are due to be tried in Suffolk Superior Court in late February. In the civil lawsuits, Geoghan has no attorney, and is not contesting the charges.

The church’s likely legal defense, as Rogers hinted in July, will be that doctors deemed Geoghan rehabilitated. Church records obtained by the Globe note that Geoghan was indeed medically cleared for the St. Julia’s assignment - but not until he had been at the parish for a month.

In 1984, there were still some clinicians who believed child molesters could be cured. But other specialists had long since warned Catholic bishops of the high risk that priests who had abused children would become repeat offenders.

What’s more, specialists in child sexual abuse and attorneys who have represented victims said, it ought to have been apparent to the archdiocese by 1984 that someone with Geoghan’s record of habitual sexual abuse should not have been returned to a parish.

“In Geoghan’s case, the church defied its own most basic values of protecting the young and fostering celibacy,” said A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest. Sipe, a psychotherapist and expert in clergy sexual abuse, said he has long believed that the Catholic Church has been too slow to deal with priests who molest children.

The Spotlight Team found evidence that one of Law’s top subordinates worried that Geoghan would cause further scandal at St. Julia’s in Weston, where he began work on Nov. 13, 1984. On Dec. 7, Bishop John M. D’Arcy wrote to Law, challenging the wisdom of the assignment in light of Geoghan’s “history of homosexual involvement with young boys.”

Within the next week, two doctors cleared Geoghan for parish duty, according to an archdiocesan chronology that is in court files. It reads: “12/11/84 Dr. [Robert] Mullins - Father Geoghan `fully recovered.’ . . . 12/14/84 Dr. [John H.] Brennan: “no psychiatric contraindications or restrictions to his work as a parish priest.”

The files also contain a poignant - and prophetic - August 1982 letter to Law’s predecessor, the late Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, from the aunt of Geoghan’s seven Jamaica Plain victims, expressing incredulity that the church to which she was devoted would give Geoghan another chance at St. Brendan’s after what he had done to her family.

“Regardless of what he says, or the doctor who treated him, I do not believe he is cured; his actions strongly suggest that he is not, and there is no guarantee that persons with these obsessions are ever cured,” Margaret Gallant said in her plea to Medeiros.

“It embarrasses me that the church is so negligent,” Gallant wrote. Archdiocesan records obtained by the Globe make it clear why Gallant wrote her irate letter two years after the abuse: Geoghan had reappeared in Jamaica Plain, and been seen with a young boy. The records note that the next month, “Another letter from Mrs. Gallant. Why is nothing being done?”

RELATED: More coverage of the Spotlight report

From the Jamaica Plain case alone, the archdiocese’s top officials were aware of Geoghan’s attraction to young boys, and how he picked his victims: The affable Geoghan usually befriended Catholic mothers struggling to raise large families, often alone. His offers to help, often by taking the children for ice cream or praying with them at bedtime, were accepted without suspicion.

That is how 12-year-old Patrick McSorley, who lived in a Hyde Park housing project, allegedly became a Geoghan victim in 1986 - two years after Geoghan’s assignment to Weston.

According to McSorley, Geoghan, who knew the family from St. Andrew’s, learned of his father’s suicide and dropped by to offer condolences to his mother, who is schizophrenic. The priest offered to buy Patrick ice cream.

“I felt a little funny about it,” McSorley recalled in an interview. “I was 12 years old and he was an old man.”

Riding home after getting ice cream, McSorley says, Geoghan consoled him. But then he patted his upper leg and slid his hand up toward his crotch. “I froze up,” McSorley said. “I didn’t know what to think. Then he put his hand on my genitals and started masturbating me. I was petrified.” McSorely added that Geoghan then began masturbating himself.

When Geoghan dropped a shaken McSorley off at his mother’s house, he suggested they keep secret what had taken place. “He said, `We’re very good at keeping secrets,’ “ McSorley said.

For years, McSorley has battled alcoholism and depression. And now, as the plaintiff in one of the lawsuits against Geoghan, McSorley is bitter. “To find out later that the Catholic Church knew he was a child molester - every day it bothers me more and more,” McSorley says.

Many documents yet to be unsealed

The letters from Bishop D’Arcy and Margaret Gallant were among documents found by the Globe during a review of the public files of 84 civil lawsuits still pending against Geoghan. But for all Geoghan’s notoriety, the public record is remarkably skeletal. That is because almost all the evidence in the lawsuits about the church’s supervision of Geoghan has been under a court-ordered confidentiality seal granted to church lawyers.

In November, acting on a motion by the Globe, Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney ordered those documents made public. The archdiocese appealed to the state Appeals Court, arguing that the Globe - and the public - should not have access to documents about the church’s inner workings. But the appeal was denied last month. The records, including depositions of bishops and personnel files, are scheduled to become public on Jan. 26.

The cardinal and five other bishops who supervised Geoghan over the years have been accused of negligence in many of the civil suits for allegedly knowing of Geoghan’s abuse and doing nothing to stop it. Never before have so many bishops had to defend their roles in a case involving sexual molestation charges against a single priest. The five, all since promoted to head their own dioceses, are Bishops Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Robert J. Banks of Green Bay, Wis.; William F. Murphy of Rockville Center, N.Y.; John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., and Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans. Law and the five bishops have all denied the accusations in legal filings.

No American diocese has faced a scandal of similar dimensions since 1992. That year, in the Fall River Diocese, more than 100 of former priest James Porter’s victims surfaced publicly with evidence that Porter’s superiors - including, in the 1960s, then Monsignor Medeiros - shifted him from one parish to another as parents learned of his compulsive abuse.

Since 1997, the archdiocese has settled about 50 lawsuits against Geoghan, for more than $10 million - but with no confidential documents ever made public.

Plaintiffs in the 84 pending lawsuits are refusing to settle their claims as easily, and the church’s internal documents are subject to being revealed in the litigation. So the archdiocese has moved aggressively to keep information about its supervision of Geoghan out of public view. One example: When Law was named a defendant in 25 of the lawsuits, Rogers asked a judge to impound any reference to the cardinal, arguing that his reputation might be harmed. The judge refused.

On Dec. 17, Rogers sent the Globe’s attorney, Jonathan M. Albano, a letter threatening to seek legal sanctions against the newspaper and its law firm if the Globe published anything gleaned from confidential records in the suits. He warned that he would seek court-imposed sanctions even if Globe reporters asked questions of clergy involved in the case.

For decades, within the US Catholic Church, sexual misbehavior by priests was shrouded in secrecy - at every level. Abusive priests - Geoghan among them - often instructed traumatized youngsters to say nothing about what had been done to them. Parents who learned of the abuse, often wracked by shame, guilt, and denial, tried to forget what the church had done. The few who complained were invariably urged to keep silent. And pastors and bishops, meanwhile, viewed the abuse as a sin for which priests could repent rather than as a compulsion they might be unable to control.

Even Massachusetts law assured secrecy - and still does. For all the years that Geoghan was molesting children, clergymen were exempt from laws requiring most other caregivers to report incidents of sex abuse to police for possible prosecution. It was only after last summer’s revelations that the archdiocese dropped its long-standing opposition to legislation adding clergy to the list of “mandated reporters.” But the legislation died in committee.

Until recent years, the church also had little to fear from the courts. But that has changed, as predicted in a 1985 confidential report on priest abuse prepared at the urging of some of the nation’s top bishops, Law among them. “Our dependence in the past on Roman Catholic judges and attorneys protecting the Diocese and clerics is GONE,” the report said.

Since mid-December, the Globe has been requesting interviews with Law and other Church officials. But the answer was delayed until Morrissey’s call late Friday, in which she said she would not even accept questions in writing. Asked if that meant the Archdiocese had no interest in knowing what the questions were, Morrissey replied: “That’s correct.”

In preparing this article, the Globe also sought interviews with many of the priests and bishops who had supervised Geoghan or worked with him. None of the bishops would comment. Of the priests, few would speak publicly. And one pastor hung up the phone and another slammed a door shut at the first mention of Geoghan’s name.
After ordination, a record of abuse

There is no dispute that Geoghan abused children while he was at Blessed Sacrament in Saugus after his 1962 ordination. The archdiocese has recently settled claims on accusations that he did, and the church records obtained by the Globe note that Geoghan in 1995 admitted molesting four boys from the same family then. The unresolved issue in the remaining suits is whether church officials knew of the abuse at the time.

A former priest, Anthony Benzevich, has said he alerted church higher-ups that Geoghan frequently took young boys to his rectory bedroom. In news reports after accusations against Geoghan surfaced publicly, Benzevich was also quoted as saying church officials threatened to reassign him as a missionary in South America for telling them about Geoghan. Benzevich told his story to Mitchell Garabedian, who represents nearly all of the plaintiffs in the civil suits against Geoghan and church officials, according to an affidavit Garabedian filed.

But court records reviewed by the Globe show that when Benzevich appeared in Garabedian’s office for a pre-trial deposition in October 2000, he was represented by Wilson Rogers 3d - the son of Law’s principal attorney. Then, under oath, Benzevich changed his story. He said he was not certain that Geoghan had had boys in his room. And he said he could not recall notifying superiors about Geoghan’s behavior with children.

In a recent interview with the Globe, Benzevich said he does indeed remember Geoghan taking boys to his room. He said Geoghan often sought to wrestle with young boys - and liked to dress them in priest’s attire. But he repeated his sworn assertion that he does not recall notifying his superiors.

Before his deposition, Benzevich said, Wilson Rogers 3d approached him, told him the church was trying to protect him from being named as a defendant, and offered to represent him. His earlier statements to reporters, Benzevich said, had been misconstrued.

Garabedian, citing the confidentiality order, refused to discuss the Benzevich issue with the Globe. The church’s financial liability in the pending suits could increase dramatically if there is evidence Geoghan’s superiors knew of his abuse.

Geoghan’s second assignment - in 1966 to St. Bernard’s in Concord - ended after seven months, according to a detailed chronology of Geoghan’s service prepared by the church which does not explain why the assignment was so abbreviated.

The pending lawsuits include accusations that Geoghan again abused young boys from several families in his next parish, St. Paul’s in Hingham, between 1967 and 1974. One of his alleged victims, Anthony Muzzi Jr., said in an interview last week that in addition to his own abuse, his uncle caught Geoghan abusing his son. The uncle ordered Geoghan to leave his house, and complained to the priest’s superiors at St. Paul’s.

That complaint to church officials coincides with the time frame when Geoghan received in-patient treatment for sex abuse at the Seton Institute in Baltimore, according to Sipe, the psychotherapist who was on Seton’s staff at the time. Sipe did not treat Geoghan.

During his assignment in Hingham, Geoghan found victims far afield, befriending Joanne Mueller, a single mother of four boys who lived in Melrose. There too, according to depositions, the priest became a regular visitor, a spiritual counselor to Mueller and a helpmate to her boys, who were between 5 and 12.

One night, she testified, her second youngest son came to her, insisting that she keep Geoghan away from him. “I don’t want him doing that to my wee-wee, touching my wee-wee . . .” Mueller recalled the boy saying.

Mueller, according to her deposition, summoned her three other sons and learned that Geoghan, while purporting to be taking them out for ice cream, helping them with their baths, and reading them bedtime stories, had been raping them orally and anally. Also, Mueller said, Geoghan was insisting they tell no one. “We couldn’t tell you because Father said it was a confessional,” she said one of her sons told her.

Mueller testified that she immediately took the boys to see Rev. Paul E. Miceli, a parish priest at St. Mary’s in Melrose who knew both Geoghan and her family.

She testified that Miceli assured her that Geoghan would be handled by appropriate church authorities and would “never be a priest again.” Mueller also said that Miceli asked her to keep the matter to herself: “Bad as it was, he said, `Just try - don’t think about it. It will never happen again.’ “

Miceli, until recently a member of Law’s cabinet, contradicted Mueller in his own deposition. He said he did not recall her name, and never received a visit of the sort she described. But Miceli acknowledged receiving a call from a woman saying Geoghan was spending too much time with her children.

Miceli testified that the caller said nothing about sexual abuse. Nonetheless, Miceli said he drove to Geoghan’s new parish in Jamaica Plain to relay the woman’s concerns to Geoghan face-to-face.

Family in need was vulnerable

If Mueller had unwittingly facilitated Geoghan’s access to the children in her home in Melrose, the same role was played by Maryetta Dussourd at the priest’s next stop: St. Andrew’s, in the Forest Hills section of Jamaica Plain, where he served from 1974 to 1980.

Dussourd was rearing her own four children - three boys and a girl - as well as her niece’s four boys. In her hardscrabble neighborhood, she said in an interview, she hoped there was a priest the children could look up to. Then she met Geoghan, who oversaw altar boys and Boy Scouts at the parish.

Geoghan, she recalled bitterly, was eager to help. Before long, he was visiting her apartment almost every evening - for nearly two years. He routinely took the seven boys out for ice cream and put them to sleep at night.

But all that time, Geoghan regularly molested the seven boys in their bedrooms, Dussourd said. In some cases, he performed oral sex on them, according to court documents. Other times, he fondled their genitals or forced them to fondle his - occasionally as he prayed.

A 1994 Archdiocesan memorandum, labeled “personal and confidential,” said Geoghan would stay in the Dussourd home “even when he was on retreat because he missed the children so much. He `would touch them while they were sleeping and waken them by playing with their penises.’ “

Dussourd discovered what was happening after the children finally told her sister, Margaret Gallant. Horrified, Dussourd complained to the Rev. John E. Thomas, the pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, a nearby parish, according to court documents and accounts by Dussourd and a church official who asked that he not be identified.

Thomas confronted Geoghan with the allegations, and was taken aback when Geoghan casually admitted they were accurate. “He said, `Yes, that’s all true,’ “ the official recalled. It was as if Geoghan had been asked “if he preferred chocolate or vanilla ice cream.”

Thomas immediately drove to archdiocesan offices in Brighton to notify Daily. In Thomas’s presence that Saturday afternoon, Feb. 9, 1980, Daily telephoned Geoghan at St. Andrew’s and, in a brief conversation, delivered a curt directive: “Go home,” the official said.

Geoghan protested, saying there was no one else to celebrate the 4 p.m. Mass. “I’ll say the Mass myself,” Daily insisted. “Go home.” The official said Daily drove to Jamaica Plain and said Mass.

The Rev. Francis H. Delaney, who was Geoghan’s pastor at St. Andrew’s, said in an interview that church officials never told him why Geoghan disappeared from the parish.

Several weeks later, Dussourd said, a contrite Thomas came to her apartment and told her that Geoghan had admitted to abusing the boys, but had excused his behavior by telling the pastor, “It was only two families.”

Thomas, echoing a tack common among clerics at the time, later pleaded with Dussourd not to follow through on her threat to go public, she said. He cited the years Geoghan had spent studying for the priesthood, and the consequences for Geoghan if the accusations against him were publicized. “Do you realize what you’re taking from him?” Thomas asked, according to Dussourd.

Thomas, who is now retired, declined to be interviewed.

RELATED: Part 2 of 2: Geoghan preferred preying on poorer children

A 1994 archdiocesan document summarizing Geoghan’s recurrent problems says of the seven children: “Fr. Geoghan `admits the activity but does not feel it serious or a pastoral problem.’ “

Geoghan spent the following year on sick leave, under treatment for his compulsion, but living with family in West Roxbury. In February 1981, he was sent to his fifth parish, St. Brendan’s.

Almost immediately, Geoghan was working with First Communicants, befriending young children and their parents, even taking some boys to his family’s summer home in Scituate, where - parents say they later discovered - he sexually abused the youths.

Geoghan’s free rein was made possible because the archdiocese said nothing to Lane, St. Brendan’s pastor, about Geoghan’s history, according to a teacher in the parish whom Lane has confided in.

The St. Brendan’s teacher, who declined to be named, said that at first, Geoghan’s willingness to spend inordinate amounts of time with children was admired. But over time, some parishioners became suspicious. “We knew something wasn’t right,” the teacher said. “He just zeroed in on some kids.”

After two more years and more allegations of sexual abuse, Geoghan’s tenure at St. Brendan’s came to an abrupt end in 1984, when Lane heard complaints that Geoghan had molested children in the parish.

Lane, the teacher said, was so devastated that he broke down when he told her the news. And, she said, he was incensed that he had not been warned. “Father Lane was almost destroyed by this,” the teacher said.

Lane is now retired. When a Globe reporter went to see him recently, he slammed the door shut as soon as Geoghan’s name was mentioned.
Law denies he tried ‘to shift a problem’

In his own defense last summer, Law wrote in the Pilot, the archdiocesan newspaper, “Never was there an effort on my part to shift a problem from one place to the next.”

The cardinal’s assertion followed his disclosure, in court documents, that he was informed in September 1984 of the four-year-old allegations that Geoghan had molested the seven Jamaica Plain boys. In the court filing, Law went on to say he then notified Geoghan that he was being removed from St. Brendan’s and was “in between assignments.”

The legal response by the cardinal, narrowly drawn in response to the lawsuit against him, omits any reference to Geoghan’s molestation of children at St. Brendan’s in Dorchester.

Despite his record, Geoghan was assigned to St. Julia’s. And in his first two years, he was in charge of altar boys, religious education for public school youngsters and a youth group, according to the church’s annual directories.

Three weeks after Geoghan arrived in Weston, Bishop D’Arcy protested the assignment to Law, citing Geoghan’s problems and adding: “I understand his recent abrupt departure from St. Brendan’s, Dorchester may be related to this problem.”

A copy of the letter contains a redacted paragraph, an apparent reference to the Rev. Nicholas Driscoll, who confirmed last week that he had been removed from St. Julia’s before Geoghan’s arrival - but for alcohol and depression problems, not sexual abuse. So D’Arcy expressed concern about “further scandal in this parish.” If “something happens,” parishioners will feel that the archdiocese “simply sends them priests with problems.”

D’Arcy urged Law to consider restricting Geoghan to weekend duty “while receiving some kind of therapy.” The Globe could find no evidence that Law accepted that advice. Retired Monsignor Francis S. Rossiter, Geoghan’s pastor at St. Julia’s, refused to be interviewed last week. But Church records note that Rossiter was aware of Geoghan’s history.

The civil and criminal allegations Geoghan faces in Middlesex and Suffolk counties suggest that he allegedly abused at least 30 more boys after Law sent him to Weston in 1984 - both before and after the half year’s sick leave in 1989.

After Geoghan’s 1989 return to St. Julia’s, it was another 38 months before Law took him out of the parish. Three years later, Geoghan was still seeking out victims, allegedly including an altar boy donning vestments for a christening ceremony, according to the criminal charges.

The shuttling of Geoghan from one parish to another created a devastating coincidence for one family. One boy he allegedly molested is the son of a man who had been among the many sexually abused by Porter during the 1960s in the Fall River Diocese, according to Roderick MacLeish Jr., the attorney who represented the man and 100 other Porter victims.

MacLeish declined to provide any information about the family, and said a legal claim has yet to be filed over the son’s treatment by Geoghan.

MacLeish, who has had substantial dealings with the Boston Archdiocese, said he remains astonished at Rogers’s assertion that Geoghan’s assignments were deemed safe by doctors. “No responsible clinician would have said it was safe to transfer him to another parish in light of what the church knew about his pattern of deviant behavior,” MacLeish said.v

Geoghan preferred preying on poorer children
Children to therapist, priest cited sexual revolution

The telephone call was urgent.

“There is a crisis,” the Rev. Brian M. Flatley, an archdiocesan official, told Dr. Edward Messner, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, on Dec. 30, 1994.

Messner’s notes from that day convey the gravity of the situation: “A priest had admitted abusing minors in the past and has been acting out again recently . . . police and the district attorney are involved . . .

The allegations mirror what has come up before.”

Six hours later, the Rev. John J. Geoghan and Messner began regular therapy sessions in which Geoghan admitted to being “drawn by affection and intimacy with boys” and, as an MGH psychologist wrote, “pointed out that his misconduct occurred, ‘during a time of sexual exploration for this country.’ ”
View Graphic
Timeline of Spotlight report stories

The Globe’s Spotlight report on the sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church caused sweeping reforms and inspired the new movie “Spotlight.” Here’s a look at some of the stories that shaped the investigation.

In 1995 and 1996, according to court records examined by the Globe Spotlight Team, Geoghan explained why he preyed on children from poorer families: “The children were just so affectionate, I got caught up in their acts of affection. Children from middle-class families never acted like that toward me, so I never got so confused.”

Moreover, court documents that include Geoghan’s psychiatric records contain starkly contradictory assessments of his danger to children from different therapists. He received at least four clean bills of health between 1980 and 1990, a period when the Archdiocese of Boston assigned him three times to parishes despite his record of abuse; but prompted declarations that he was an incurable pedophile after he became a public embarrassment to the archdiocese in the mid-1990s.

For example, Messner’s notes show that Geoghan told him that Flatley, whose job was to deal with priests who had molested children, had branded him “a pedophile, a liar, and a manipulator.”

Collectively, the publicly filed church documents add detailed clinical evidence to what the Globe reported yesterday: Although the 1995 and 1996 psychiatric reports diagnose Geoghan with a deep-rooted sexual perversion, there were ample signs years earlier that he was unfit for parish work.

Yesterday, the Globe reported that Cardinal Bernard F. Law, during his first year in Boston in 1984, assigned Geoghan to St. Julia’s in Weston even though Geoghan had been removed from his two prior parishes for molesting children. In one of those cases, in 1980, Geoghan asserted that his repeated abuse of seven boys in one family, which was disovered that year, was not a “serious” problem. That is according to a church timeline of Geoghan’s career - six parish assignments in 34 years with accusations that he molested more than 130 children.

Law, after celebrating Mass yesterday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, reiterated the archdiocese’s statement of Friday that he would not comment on Geoghan.

The documents also contain evidence that Geoghan’s false denials of past sexual abuse through the 1960s and much of the 1970s helped justify a critical church decision that freed Geoghan to abuse even more children. In 1989, Geoghan was forced to take a six-month sick leave from St. Julia’s after more accusations of abuse surfaced. But Law soon signed off on a decision to return him to the parish, according to church documents.

The Spotlight reports of today and yesterday are based on public documents filed in connection with 84 civil lawsuits pending against Geoghan and two criminal cases, the first of which is scheduled to go to trial in Middlesex Superior Court next Monday. The archdiocese, Law, and five other bishops are defendants in many of the pending lawsuits, charged with negligence for not properly supervising Geoghan. Already, the archdiocese has settled 50 other lawsuits, paying more than $10 million to Geoghan’s victims.

The multiple accusations against Geoghan represent the largest scandal involving an American Catholic priest since the 1992 disclosure that former priest James Porter had abused more than 100 children in the Fall River Diocese in the 1960s.

The massive number of documents compiled by lawyers handling the 84 remaining civil suits have been under a confidentiality seal sought by the archdiocese. But based on a motion by the Globe, Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney ordered that all the documents be made public. They are scheduled to be released on Jan. 26.

The documents already on public file detail the extent of Geoghan’s lengthy treatment history and make clear the church’s longtime knowledge of his misconduct.

The psychiatric documents offer added insights into Geoghan’s troubled mind and the motivations behind his aberrant actions - often as explained by Geoghan himself.

Geoghan was, by his own assessment, a heterosexual. But he told Messner during his treatment sessions that his victims were usually young prepubescent boys. He said he “avoided girls,” explaining, “I picked the boys because in some way they were the safest, the girls and the mothers would have been more dangerous.”

RELATED: Part 1 of 2: Church allowed abuse by priest for years

The records suggest there were early warning signs.

Geoghan, who is 66, attended St. John’s Seminary after graduating from Holy Cross College and was ordained in 1962. Deposition transcripts refer to correspondence from Geoghan’s seminary days in which his superiors conclude he has “pronounced immaturity.”

In an April 1995 session with Messner, Geoghan said that even as a newly ordained priest he would “experience arousal when there was physical closeness” with children.

In a June 1996 psychological assessment, Dr. Mark Blais, a Massachusetts General Hospital psychologist, concluded that Geoghan has a “powerful sense of emotional deprivation and emotional loneliness.”

Medical evaluations of Geoghan, which repeatedly cleared him to return to parish work after incidents of sexual misconduct in the 1970s and ‘80s, changed dramatically in the mid-1990s. By then, complaints against Geoghan were being made with unsettling frequency, and it was clear he risked becoming an embarrassment - and financial liability - to the Church.

In December 1984, for example, a month after being reassigned to St. Julia’s in Weston following his removal from St. Brendan’s in Dorchester, Geoghan underwent evaluations by two separate Boston-area psychotherapists. Dr. Robert Mullins declared Geoghan “fully recovered,” and Dr. John H. Brennan advised “no . . . restrictions to his work as a parish priest.”

Not everyone was comfortable with the assignment. Bishop John M. D’Arcy, a popular cleric whose forthright manner rankled Law, according to a friend of D’Arcy, wrote to Law in December 1984 to question Law’s decision assigning Geoghan to St. Julia’s because of his history of sex abuse. He warned that placing Geoghan there might result in further scandal.

Two months later, D’Arcy was gone, transferred to a diocese in Fort Wayne, Ind., which he has headed ever since.

New allegations against Geo ghan surfaced within two years, and again in 1989. But Geoghan told Bishop Robert J. Banks in March 1989 that he had “no more sexual attraction to children” and had been “chaste for five years.”

But the church’s own timeline of Geoghan’s misconduct suggests Banks did not believe him. Within weeks, Geoghan was sent to the St. Luke Institute in Suitland, Md., where he was diagnosed with “homosexual pedophilia.” The result: “Told by Bishop Banks he had to leave ministry,” according to a church record.

Instead, Geoghan was put on sick leave the following month, and in August was hospitalized for three months at the Institute of Living, a Hartford treatment center, where he was discharged in November 1989, as “moderately improved.” Banks agreed to send him back to St. Julia’s, subject to approval by another bishop and “BFL” - Cardinal Law.

But during 1995 treatment, psychologists at St. Luke concluded that during the 1989 treatment in Hartford, Geoghan did not tell the truth about the extent of his sexual abuse of children. He denied any incidents before the late 1970s, to include long-running instances of abuse dating to 1962. And the Institute of Living’s report to the archdiocese reflected Geoghan’s lie.

Moreover, the records state that Bishop Banks was “unhappy” with the Institute of Living’s discharge summary because it was “different from what he had understood and based his decision to allow Fr. Geoghan back to work.”

A reply letter from the institute reports: “The probability that he would act out again is quite low. However, we cannot guarantee that it could not reoccur.”

Yet the archdiocese was hit with more complaints in 1991, 1992, and 1994, although the 1992 accusation was dismissed by church officials as “hearsay and vague.”

Law finally removed Geoghan from parish duty in January 1993.

Midway through his treatment with Messner, Geoghan was returned to St. Luke in January 1995. His diagnosis after that 10-day stay was far less optimistic than earlier judgments. “It is our clinical judgment that Father Geoghan has a longstanding and continuing problem with sexual attraction to prepubescent males,” his evaluation reads. “His recognition of the problem and his insight into it is limited.”

Therapists at St. Luke advised that Geoghan have no unsupervised contact with minor males and return for residential treatment, although Geoghan resisted the latter recommendation. Instead, he was sent in July 1995, to Southdown, an Ontario treatment facility, where he stayed for four to six months.

In 1996, Blais, too, submitted a pessimistic evaluation. “Treatment of such a chronic and deeply ingrained condition would need to be lengthy,” he wrote.

Geoghan was removed from the priesthood in 1998.

Boston Globe2


Church documents, official testimony, and victim interviews gathered over the past year paint an extraordinary picture of secrecy and deception in the Boston Archdiocese; a culture in which top church officials coddled abusive priests and permitted them to molest again, while stonewalling or paying off the victims of that abuse.

January 6, 2002
Spotlight: Church allowed abuse by priest for years
By the Globe Spotlight Team
More than 130 people have come forward with horrific childhood tales about how former priest John Geoghan allegedly fondled or raped them during a three-decade spree through Greater Boston.

January 24, 2002
Spotlight: Officials avoided confronting priest over abuse
By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
Although several of his colleagues had been told by parishioners or had suspected on their own that the Rev. John Geoghan was sexually abusing boys, they did not always inform their superiors.

January 24, 2002
Spotlight: Letters exhibit gentle approach toward priest

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Three decades of correspondence between defrocked priest John Geoghan and the two cardinals he served make clear that Geoghan was treated with unfailing delicacy by his superiors.

January 24, 2002
Spotlight: Documents show church long supported Geoghan
By the Globe Spotlight Team
Even as two cardinals and dozens of church officials learned of evidence that the Rev. John Geoghan could not control his compulsion to molest children, Geoghan found comfort in his church.

January 28, 2002
Spotlight: Church settled six lawsuits against priest

By Sacha Pfeiffer and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
The Archdiocese of Boston settled at least six sexual-abuse cases against a priest accused of raping teenagers, yet allowed him to remain in an administrative position until recently.

January 31, 2002
Spotlight: Scores of priests involved in sex abuse cases
By the Globe Spotlight Team
Under an extraordinary cloak of secrecy, the Archdiocese of Boston in the last 10 years has quietly settled child molestation claims against at least 70 priests, according to a Globe investigation.

February 13, 2002
Woman says church ignored her outcries

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
For years Jackie Gauvreau made no secret of her animus for the Rev. Paul Shanley. Everyone heard her, but no one really listened - not her fellow parishioners or the officials she notified.

February 24, 2002
Spotlight: Church cloaked in culture of silence

By Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff
It was the church's most closely held secret: Catholic priests were molesting children, crimes so unspeakable that the Archdiocese of Boston went to extraordinary lengths to cover up the scandal.

March 23, 2002
Springfield priest cites cost for speaking out

By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff
When a priest in the Diocese of Springfield notified police about a convicted child molester hanging around St. Brigid Church, he was scolded by his superiors for going outside the church.

April 3, 2002
Priest treatment unfolds in costly, secretive world
By Ellen Barry, Globe Staff
For decades the Catholic Church spent millions of dollars to quietly treat accused sex offenders in a constellation of psychiatric hospitals advertised in the back pages of religious publications.

April 4, 2002
Dozens more allege abuse by late priest

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Dozens of alleged victims of the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham have come forward, some with accounts of how they fruitlessly complained about his compulsive molestation of children.

April 8, 2002
Boston diocese gave letter of assurance about Shanley
By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
The Archdiocese of Boston arranged the transfer of the Rev. Paul Shanley to a California parish in 1990 with a top-level written assurance that Shanley had no problems in his past.

April 9, 2002
Shanley's record of deviant behavior long ignored

By Walter V. Robinson and Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff
For more than a decade, Cardinal Bernard Law and his deputies ignored allegations of sexual misconduct against the Rev. Paul Shanley and reacted casually to complaints about him.

April 12, 2002
Law aides often dismissed complaints of clergy abuse
By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
The public's anger over the clergy abuse crisis has focused on Cardinal Bernard Law, but it was also Law's lieutenants who supported abusive priests and dismissed their victims.

May 15, 2002
Spotlight: Law recommended fired dean for college teaching position

By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
Cardinal Bernard Law recommended the former dean of St. John's Seminary for a college teaching job in 1997, less than two years after Law dismissed him for improper contact with a seminarian.

May 18, 2002
Cardinal promoted alleged sex abuser

By Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Cardinal Bernard Law promoted a Quincy pastor to the position of area vicar with oversight of 19 parishes in 1996, after the pastor had admitted to an allegation of sexual misconduct.

May 30, 2002
Spotlight: Records show Law reassigned Paquin after settlements
By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
Cardinal Bernard Law reinstated the Rev. Ronald Paquin to priestly duties as recently as 1998, despite numerous detailed complaints of molestation against the priest.

June 5, 2002
Abuse allegations were known to high officials, files show

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
Church documents show that top officials of the Boston Archdiocese had extensive knowledge of allegations of sexual misconduct by several priests who were allowed to remain in active ministry.

June 5, 2002
On defensive, Law pleaded ignorance

By Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff
It was an awkward moment for Cardinal Bernard Law in 1993: How to explain why he transferred a priest to New Jersey in 1985 after the priest pleaded guilty to raping an Arlington altar boy.

June 5, 2002
Memos reveal trail of charges against Birmingham
By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
When the Rev. Joseph Birmingham suddenly departed his parish in 1964, church officials said it was because he "needed a rest." In fact, Birmingham had been accused of sexual abuse.

June 5, 2002
Inaction followed charges of sexual abuse
By Thomas Farragher and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
Senior archdiocesan officials in Boston reacted to charges that priests were abusing children with a bureaucratic nonchalance in the years before the current scandal broke, documents show.

June 7, 2002
Experts on sex abuse say Law rejected their advice
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff
A group of specialists on sexual abuse who met with Cardinal Bernard Law in 1993 at his invitation say he dismissed advice they gave him then to adopt zero-tolerance measures.

June 13, 2002
Doubts in memo slowed 1987 abuse case

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
A 1987 sexual abuse complaint against a priest was dismissed after it was reported to an archdiocesan official who expressed concern that the family of the victim might be ''press-oriented.''

June 13, 2002
Suit accuses Law of inaction in 1970s after report against priest
By Matt Carroll and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
Cardinal Bernard Law engaged in a ''civil conspiracy'' to conceal the sexual abuse of three young brothers in Mississippi in the early 1970s, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday.

August 10, 2002
Spotlight: Abuse alleged at Wellesley seminary
By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
Officials of the Stigmatine order knew about sexual abuse taking place at a Wellesley seminary a generation ago, but did nothing to stop it, according to interviews with victims.

August 14, 2002
Law says he didn't give scrutiny to priests' files
By Thomas Farragher and Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
According to testimony, Cardinal Bernard Law acknowledged that he promoted the Rev. Paul Shanley to serve as pastor of a Newton parish without consulting the priest's personnel file.

August 28, 2002
Priest faces charges of raping altar boy

By Walter V. Robinson and Ralph Ranalli, Globe Staff
When parents at a Quincy church complained that the Rev. Robert Gale had sexually molested altar boys, Gale was moved to a Waltham parish - where he was placed in charge of the altar boys.

September 13, 2002
Diocese records show more coverups
By Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Bishop Thomas Daily matter-of-factly recorded for church files the 1981 arrest of a priest for lewd conduct in a public restroom. Soon afterward the charge against the priest was dropped.

September 19, 2002
Suit alleges 50-year coverup in Boston Archdiocese

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
An attorney yesterday filed a civil lawsuit accusing the Boston Archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law, and other church administrators of conspiring to cover up the activities of sexually abusive priests.

October 29, 2002
Bishop Daily testifies of regret on Shanley

By Michael Rezendes and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Bishop Thomas Daily, once in charge of investigating allegations of clergy abuse in Boston, said he could not recall making any attempt to investigate complaints against the Rev. Paul Shanley.

November 23, 2002
Church tries to block public access to files
By Michael Rezendes and Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff
In a last-minute effort to shield thousands of pages of church records on priests accused of sexual misconduct, the Boston Archdiocese yesterday asked a judge to bar public access to the files.

November 26, 2002
Judge finds church records, Law's testimony at odds

By Walter V. Robinson, Globe Staff
A judge said yesterday that evidence contradicts Cardinal Bernard Law's testimony that he did not return some abusive priests to parish work without first determining that they posed no risk.

December 4, 2002
Records show a trail of secrecy, deception
By Walter V. Robinson and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
When it came to the Rev. Robert Burns and his sexual attraction to boys, the first consideration of the Archdiocese of Boston was secrecy, records released by the church indicate.

December 4, 2002
Bishop's letters of warning were ignored
By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff
Thousands of pages of records released in clergy abuse lawsuits show that one bishop complained repeatedly about giving new assignments to problem priests - and was repeatedly ignored.

December 4, 2002
Records detail quiet shifting of rogue priests
By Thomas Farragher and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Desperate to contain the burgeoning scandal in the priesthood, the Archdiocese of Boston for years dealt in secret with grave abuse allegations against its priests, newly released records show.

December 11, 2002
Church impedes state probe into abuse, Reilly says

By Walter V. Robinson and Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff
Attorney General Thomas Reilly said last night that the Archdiocese of Boston has been using ''every tool and maneuver'' to impede a criminal investigation by his office.

December 14, 2002
Admission of awareness proved damning for Law
By Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff
The roots of Cardinal Bernard Law's demise lay in his admissions in sworn testimony that he was aware of abuse allegations against Boston priests when he approved their reassignments.

December 18, 2002
Files highlight church deference on more priests

By Michael Rezendes and Thomas Farragher, Globe Staff
The Boston Archdiocese took no action against one priest despite graphic evidence - witnessed by two children - of his sexual contact with their mother, according to church records.

December 19, 2002
Letters show fear of scandal in 1984 alleged abuse case
By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
Seven months after Bernard Law arrived in Boston as the new archbishop, he wrote a letter to a bishop in Thailand asking for the recall of a Thai priest accused of molesting a girl in Dorchester.

December 20, 2002
Files show church struck deals with accusers

By Michael Rezendes and Matt Carroll, Globe Staff
In 1988 a top official of the Boston Archdiocese persuaded a county prosecutor to drop a molestation charge against a priest because the priest was being treated for sexual disorders.

January 9, 2003
New Hampshire bishop tells of shielding priests in Boston
By Michael Rezendes and Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff
In pretrial testimony, the Rev. John B. McCormack said that he and other Boston church officials decided to keep the names of accused priests secret ''to avoid scandalizing people.''

You find all rapports on this page

With a special thanks to the Boston Globe
Jim Davis and his Globe Staff, great work

Since november 2015 there is a movie of this terrible story named Spotligh.






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