Mom sues priest for alleged sexual abuse of sons

By David Weber
Boston Herald
July 11, 1996

A Catholic priest who formerly worked at St. Julia's Church in Weston is being sued on charges that he fondled three young boys after their mother had asked him to counsel them.

The three Waltham brothers ranged in age from 7 to 10 when the Rev. John J. Geoghan began talking to them on the phone and seeing them roughly once a week, the lawsuit states.

The phone conversations allegedly involved sexually explicit topics, including the idea of the boys having sex with their mother.

"He was touching their private parts and was talking dirty to them," the boys' angry mother said yesterday.

She said the alleged abuse began in February 1992 and continued until December 1994, when the boys finally told her about it.

All three boys currently are undergoing psychiatric therapy, which the Boston archdiocese has offered to pay for.

"The real question is how could such a tragedy occur and what could be implemented to make sure it doesn't happen again," said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who filed the Middlesex Superior Court lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of the mother and three boys.

Geoghan, who is now working with senior priests at Regina Cleri in South Boston, could not be reached for comment yesterday, and church officials did not have an immediate response to the lawsuit yesterday.

Martha Coakley, chief of the Middlesex County district attorney's child abuse prosecution unit, said two charges of making annoying phone calls against Geoghan were applied for by the Waltham police in October 1995.

The issuance of criminal complaints was stayed until Dec. 19, 1996, after parties on both sides agreed that Geoghan would be placed on probation while he underwent counseling. Geoghan also agreed not to minister to children.

Coakley said the boys in 1995 were not accusing the priest of fondling them, but they did report the phone calls.

The mother said the abuse by Geoghan has caused her boys' school work to drop off, left them depressed and wary of affectionate physical contact with her.

The oldest boy, now 14, washes his hands constantly, sometimes until they bleed, his mother said.

In a letter sent to the mother on Jan. 4, 1995, Sister Rita McCarthy said the Boston archdiocese offered to pay for the counseling the boys were receiving.

"The archdiocese of Boston, nevertheless, would ask that you acknowledge that this pastoral response is not to be deemed as an admission of liability on behalf of the archdiocese of Boston," the letter stated.

The letter asked the mother to forward the counseling bills to the archdiocese, but the mother said Medicaid is covering the costs.

The mother said the boys' father has never taken part in their lives and that she met Geoghan when he came to her Waltham neighborhood to meet with other children.


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