Coakley Criticized for Not Prosecuting
By Brad Puffer
November 23, 2009
[This transcript with screenshots was made by BishopAccountability.org
from the NECN video. See also the NECN
text version of this report.]
Anchor Chet Curtis: Attorney General Martha Coakley is being forced to
answer questions about actions she took years ago. The issue: Why she
didn't prosecute a now convicted pedophile priest the first time she was
presented with accusations against him. NECN's Brad Puffer reports:
As Middlesex District Attorney, Martha Coakley won widespread attention
and praise for being the first to prosecute accused pedophile priest John
Geoghan. But according to the Boston Globe [see Coakley
Made Deal in 1995 Priest Case, by Michael Rezendes, Boston Globe (11/23/09)],
Coakley investigated several complaints seven years earlier. An investigation
that ended with a probation deal, no formal charges, and no criminal record.
Martha Coakley: "I defy anybody to criticize me for my time as a
child abuse prosecutor. Toughest job I've ever had. We had nine hundred
cases a year. We would agonize over: Do we have enough evidence? Is this
child willing to testify?"
On the campaign trail in Springfield, the Senate candidate says she was
personally involved in the interviews of three boys. And despite disturbing
allegations including inappropriate comments and behavior, she insists
those boys did not describe anything that rose to the level of indecent
"Had this been ten years ago, another D.A.'s office, another part
of the country, that case wouldn't have gone any where. But we recognized
that we needed to do the extent of what we could, which was get him on
But some advocates say Coakley lost an important opportunity to publicly
expose Geoghan, perhaps leading other victims to come forward.
Anne Barrett Doyle: "When you have the choice of doing a closed door
deal with a potential child molester or getting it out in the open, even
in a case you might lose, always choose to go public."
Anne Barrett Doyle is co-chair of Bishop Accountability.org. She says
only after civil suits gained media attention did more victims come forward.
Anne Barrett Doyle: "Those 100 plus other Geoghan victims would have
gotten relief sooner, and who knows maybe the whole lid would have blown
off the Boston Archdiocese even sooner."
And despite widespread allegations that came later, both against Geoghan
and other priests, Coakley isn't backing down.
Martha Coakley: "I believe we took exactly the right course and the
strongest course we could have, and as I said, if there are others who
didn't do the right thing it was not the Middlesex D.A.'s office, it wasn't
our handling of that case, it was others, like the Archdiocese, who should
have revealed those records earlier."
... records later released showing the extent of allegations against Geoghan.
In Springfield, Massachusetts, Brad Puffer, NECN.