Atlantans Upset over Geoghan's Death

By Jaye Watson
WXIA [Atlanta GA]
August 26, 2003

John Geoghan, a former priest and convicted child abuser at the center of the Boston sexual abuse scandal, was killed by another inmate inside his cell at a Massachusetts state prison Saturday.

Authorities said Geoghan's attacker, Joseph Druce, was a self-described neo-Nazi and that he held a grudge against homosexuals and child abusers. Druce, who is already serving a life sentence for murder, will likely be charged with murder, authorities said.

Many in Atlanta said they were angry over Geoghan's murder but the anger was not directed at his alleged killer. Some victims and their families said his death denied them justice.

Ellie Harold of Cobb County was molested by her priest at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Marietta over a one-year period 40 years ago. Harold was 10-years-old at the time.

"To date we know of at least 10 other people who were molested by him," Harold said.

It has taken a lifetime to recover and news of Geoghan's murder hit Harold hard.

"When I saw it, I burst into tears. It was a very confusing reaction," she said. "It brought up a lot of pain again, a lot of confusion."

But, the feeling of many more who heard the news was anger. Geoghan's alleged victims - which numbered as many as 150 people - and their families feel that by being murdered, he got off easy.

"It was my mother's first reaction, 'Well he got off easy.' It would have been much more of a punishment to have seen him go through due process and have to stand trial for the number of criminal charges he has had yet to face," Harold said.

Ten years ago, Harold confronted Father Clarence Biggers at the Conyers monastery where he now lives. He never admitted to molesting her or any other children.

"To this date, he has not acknowledged wrongdoing. He continues to feel that what [he] was being affectionate," Harold said. "I always felt like this was a very sick person and I believe this was true of Geoghan. My anger is not so much towards the man who did it, but to the system that allowed it to be covered up."

Harold has received letters of apology from the Diocese of Atlanta.

She continues to work and meet with other survivors of priest sexual abuse.

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