Inmate Says Arrogant Geoghan Angered Him

By Denise Lavoie
The Associated Press, carried in The Columbian
January 23, 2006

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) -- The inmate who strangled child-molesting priest John Geoghan behind bars testified Monday that he resolved to kill the clergyman after Geoghan arrogantly brushed off criticism that he had "destroyed all kinds of lives."

Joseph Druce took the stand for a second day at his trial for killing Geoghan, who was serving time for groping a 10-year-old boy and had been accused of molesting 150 other children.

Druce, 40, said that in the weeks before the slaying, he twice confronted Geoghan about molesting children. Instead of denying the accusations, Geoghan was "arrogant" and said he was worth far more than the millions the Boston Archdiocese had paid to settle lawsuits against him, Druce testified.

"I was just, like, `That's it. That's it. I've got to stop this,'" Druce said. "I couldn't get it out of my head."

After Geoghan was dead, Druce said, he felt relief: "It had been done. It was over ... I had peace of mind."

Druce, who is already serving a life sentence for another killing, is using an insanity defense, arguing that his own molestation as a child and years in prison had filled him with rage.

The judge told jurors they would hear closing arguments and begin deliberations Thursday.

On the stand, Druce did not describe the actual killing, but was asked by his attorney, John LaChance, to describe what was going through his mind during the Aug. 23, 2003, slaying and the weeks leading up to it.

Druce said he heard Geoghan talking on the phone to his sister and also overheard conversations he had with other inmates about plans to move to South America once he was released so he could work with children again.

In one conversation, Druce said, he overheard Geoghan discussing with other inmates how to molest young boys.

"That just, like, freaked me out," he said.

He said that during one conversation, he told Geoghan, "You're bankrupting the archdiocese, you're costing them $10 million," a reference to the amount the church had paid out in lawsuits.

Geoghan replied, "I'm worth $20 million," Druce said.

During a later conversation, Druce said, he told Geoghan he had molested 150 to 200 children and "destroyed all kinds of lives." Druce said Geoghan responded: "I'm worth 300 of them."

When asked by his lawyer why he killed Geoghan, Druce referred to his claims that he was molested as a child. "I wanted to get the thoughts out of my mind of being molested myself, and the arrogant way he answered my questions," Druce said.

He also said he wanted to "make a statement."

"I had seen myself as the designated individual who had to put a stop to the pedophilia in the church," he said.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Lawrence Murphy pressed Druce about the level of planning involved in the killing. He told investigators he had planned to kill Geoghan for five weeks and was "driven" to do it.

"It wasn't about planning. I had to stop him and that was that," Druce said. "He was a sick, degenerate pedophile that victimized hundreds of kids."

Druce also railed about the Boston Archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law and other church supervisors who shifted Geoghan from parish to parish after receiving allegations that he was molesting children.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.