Murdered Pedophile Priest's Conviction to Be Quashed

By Yvonne Abraham
The Age [Boston MA]
August 28, 2003

Prosecutors who won a guilty verdict against John Geoghan for molesting a boy, 10, say the former priest's conviction will be quashed because he died while appealing against the conviction.

A spokeswoman for the Middlesex District Attorney's office, Emily LaGrassa, said case law dictated that the court where Geoghan was tried would automatically be ordered to invalidate his 2002 conviction.

"The Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that if a defendant dies while his appeal is pending, the indictments are to be remanded to the trial court with an order that they be dismissed," she said.

The revelation has dismayed victims of clergy sexual abuse.

"The guilty verdict is a symbol that allowed many clients to regain some sort of self-esteem, dignity, and freedom from unnecessary guilt," said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represents abuse victims.

When Geoghan was found guilty in the 1992 indecent assault and battery case, the conviction was seen as an enormous victory for victims of clergy sex abuse, and a vindication of claims that went unheard for decades.

It was his only conviction, although he had been accused of molesting nearly 150 children during decades as a priest. He was awaiting trial in another child-abuse case.

A lawyer who represents clergy-abuse victims, Robert Sherman, said: "I think that the technical quirk in the law only serves to revictimise the victims."

Geoghan, 68, was murdered on Saturday in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Centre, north-west of Boston, allegedly by Joseph Druce, an inmate who told investigators he had plotted the killing for at least a month.

Mr Sherman said that neither Geoghan's death nor the nullification of his conviction would affect civil cases against the church stemming from clergy sexual abuse, but erasing the conviction would be a step back for some victims.

Two former priests convicted of child sexual abuse have been moved to the hospital wing after Geoghan's killing, prison officials said. They told of the transfers as another inmate at the Souza-Baranowski prison said that he warned guards twice recently about a possible attack that Druce said he planned to commit involving Geoghan.

The two former priests, Kelvin Iguabita and Ronald Paquin, were in the state prison at Concord and were transferred at their request.

- Boston Globe, New York Times

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