Predator Becomes Prey

Washington Post [Boston MA]
August 29, 2003

WHO WOULD have expected that a person whose serial sexual abuse of vulnerable children led to the wounding of a powerful religious institution would himself fall victim to a predator, one impelled by hatreds so strong that they would drive him to stalk and strangle a weak old man? Saturday's prison murder of John J. Geoghan, a defrocked and convicted molester of little boys, laid bare flaws of yet another powerful institution -- a prison system. Mr. Geoghan's murder in a Massachusetts prison was allegedly at the hands of Joseph L. Druce, a fellow inmate known for anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of homosexuals. As with the facilitation of Mr. Geoghan's child molestation, it is being said that Mr. Druce could not have carried out his deeds without the indulgence or gross negligence of the larger institution.

Had the Roman Catholic priest John Geoghan not been reassigned and transferred to other parishes, where he could gain access to new potential victims, it's likely that many of the 100 young boys he is accused of molesting might have been spared their humiliating and painful experiences. Likewise, prison experts, reports the New York Times, also suggest that if Mr. Geoghan, a vulnerable pedophile, had not been placed in the same protective custody unit as the self-proclaimed homophobe, Joseph Druce, it's possible the priest might be alive today. After all, Mr. Druce was already in jail serving a life sentence without parole for having murdered a gay man in 1988. The young victims of sexual abuse deserved better treatment by the Boston Archdiocese. John Geoghan deserved better from the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

Is it true, as reported, that another inmate had tried to no avail to alert corrections staff that Mr. Druce was planning Mr. Geoghan's murder? Was the prison understaffed and were protective custody procedures not followed when Mr. Geoghan and Mr. Druce were placed in the same unit? It was not enough for the Boston Archdiocese to express regret and do penance for the children abused at the hands of Mr. Geoghan. A settlement of as much as $65 million has been offered by the archdiocese to the victims. The Massachusetts corrections authorities must likewise go beyond expressions of concern and own up to what happened inside the maximum-security walls of Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.

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