Childhood & Early Life
John Joseph Geoghan was born on June 4, 1935 in Boston to an Irish Catholic family. His father died when he was only five years old, following which he was raised by his maternal uncle Msgr. Mark Keohane, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston.
Growing up in a devout Christian family, he was taught that the funeral of his father was a happy event as he now lived in heaven. He was so fascinated by the idea of heaven that he decided to become a priest.
After graduating from Holy Cross High School in 1952, he entered Cardinal O'Connell Seminary. There, in a 1954 assessment, rector, Rev. John J. Murray had expressed “serious doubts about his ability to do satisfactory work”, citing his “very pronounced immaturity”.
Leaving the seminary, he later enrolled into Holy Cross College in Worcester, from where he graduated in 1957. After graduation, he went to St. John’s Seminary and was ordained in 1962.
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Career & Sexual Abuse Charges
John Geoghan was assigned as an assistant pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Saugus, Massachusetts on February 13, 1962. In December that year, he intercepted a man threatening to jump from the Mystic River Bridge and successfully talked him out of committing suicide.
During his four year stay at Blessed Sacrament, Rev. Anthony Benzevich had informed church officials that he brought young boys into his bedroom. Benzevich, threatened with transfer to Peru, initially denied the allegations, but in 1995 Geoghan admitted to molesting four boys during this time.
On September 22, 1966, he was shifted to St. Bernard's Parish in Concord. However, without any explanations he was transferred again within seven months, this time to St. Paul's Parish in Hingham on April 20, 1967.
In 1968, the church authorities received a complaint from a man who claimed to have caught John Geoghan molesting his son. John Geoghan was subsequently sent to Seton Institute in Baltimore, Maryland for treatment.
In the early 1970s, after being introduced to parishioner Joanne McLean (later Mueller), he started to frequently visit her family that included four young boys. In 1974, after the youngest of them complained to his mother, older ones confirmed that John Geoghan forced them to engage in sexual activities with him, often in group, convincing them that such acts were normal.
McLean took all her boys to St. Mary’s Church in Melrose to lodge a complaint with Rev. Paul E. Miceli. However, Miceli reportedly asked her to keep the incident a secret (Miceli later denied the whole account, even though the church later reached a settlement with McLean).
After moving to St. Andrew's Parish in Jamaica Plain on June 4, 1974, John Geoghan offered 13-year-old Frank Leary, fifth of six children from a poor family, a summer job at the church and fondled him. After repeated molestations, a complaint was made to Rev. Francis H. Delaney, the pastor at St. Andrew’s, who denied it under oath once, but remembered after being shown a letter he wrote dismissing the complaint.
It was later revealed that following the complaint, Bishop Thomas Vose Daily had done a complete investigation and acquitted John Geoghan of the charges with “one phone call”. However, after Geoghan admitted to molesting seven boys to Rev. John E. Thomas, Daily sent him on sick leave, following which Geoghan underwent psychoanalysis and psychotherapy under doctors Robert Mullins and John H. Brennan.
Upon his return on February 25, 1981, Geoghan joined St. Brendan's Parish in Dorchester, where he allegedly raped and fondled a boy and lured many more at an ice cream shop in Jamaica Plain. After enough complaints were made against him, Bernard F. Law, the archbishop of Boston, removed him from his position on September 18, 1984 and a month later, assigned him to St. Julia's Parish in Weston.
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Despite his ill-reputation, Geoghan was put in charge of three youth groups, which prompted Auxiliary Bishop John Michael D'Arcy to complain to archbishop, Bernard F. Law, on December 7, 1984, but Michael D'Arcy was told that Geoghan had “fully recovered”.
New allegations of sexual abuse surfaced against John Geoghan in 1986, following which he was sent for treatment at the Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1989 and was diagnosed with homosexual pedophilia.
After Bishop Robert Joseph Banks ordered Geoghan to leave the ministry on April 28, 1989, Geoghan was put on sick leave and then was treated at The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut for months. His discharge summary mentioned that he had “moderately improved”, but the prospect of his return to parish ended after he was found "proselytizing" with a boy at a pool in October 1991.
He formally retired in 1993 and was placed into the Regina Cleri residence for retired priests. Three years later, he was put in therapy again in the Southdown Institute in Ontario, Canada following more allegations.
Conviction & Murder
While John Geoghan had molested hundreds of boys, and few girls, throughout his career spanning over three decades, he was persecuted in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the 1991 molestation charge. He was defrocked by Pope John Paul II in 1998, and in January 2002, was sentenced to nine to ten years in prison for indecent assault and battery.
He was initially sent to the medium-security prison, MCI-Concord, where, as a child abuser, he was harassed by guards, as well as other prisoners who looked down upon him as a means to boost self-respect. He was later put in protective custody at the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Massachusetts.
In Lancaster prison, he reportedly bragged about his molestation techniques and even claimed that his appeal against his conviction would succeed, following which he would go to South America to work as a missionary with children. Such comments triggered Joseph Lee Druce, a self-described white supremacist who was sexually abused as a child and was serving a life sentence, without possibility of parole, for killing one of his abusers.
Considering Geoghan a “prize”, Druce planned his murder for a month and strangulated him to death in his cell on August 23, 2003.