The Reverend John Geoghan was an American Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing around 130 boys over a 30-year career in six parishes. On August 23, 2003, inmate Joseph Druce killed him while he was spending his second year in the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center. As scores of priests were reassigned, the scandal involving John Geoghan led to the resignation of Boston archbishop Cardinal Bernard Francis Law. Despite several concerns, Geoghan was repeatedly reassigned. The Boston archdiocese even gave 86 of Geoghan’s victims $10 million. The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” crew extensively documented the incident, which exposed the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and inspired the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight” (2015).
Early Childhood of John Geoghan
John Joseph Geoghan was born in Boston on June 4, 1935. His father died when he was five, so he was raised by his maternal uncle, Msgr. Mark Keohane, a Boston priest.
Growing up in a Christian family, he was taught that his father’s burial was joyful because he was now in heaven. He became a priest because he was captivated by the idea of heaven.
In 1952, he enrolled Cardinal O’Connell Seminary. On the basis of his “extreme immaturity”, the rector Rev. John J. Murray raised “severe misgivings about his ability to undertake adequate work” in 1954.
Then he attended Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1957. He attended St. John’s Seminary and was ordained in 1962.
Charges of Workplace Sexual Abuse
On February 13, 1962, John Geoghan became an assistant pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Saugus. In December of that year, he stopped a man from jumping off the Mystic River Bridge.
During his four year tenure at Blessed Sacrament, Rev. Anthony Benzevich admitted to bringing young boys into his room. Benzevich originally rejected the charges, but Geoghan later acknowledged to assaulting four boys during this time period.
St. Bernard’s Parish, Concord, took him on September 22, 1966. On April 20, 1967, he was relocated again, this time to St. Paul’s Parish in Hingham, without explanation.
A guy claimed to have spotted John Geoghan assaulting his son in 1968. John Geoghan was then sent to the Seton Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
After meeting parishioner Joanne McLean (later Mueller), he began visiting her family, which included four young boys. They verified to his mother in 1974 that John Geoghan coerced them into sexual activities with him, often in groups, telling them that such acts were normal.
For her complaint, McLean brought her entire brood to St. Mary’s Church in Melrose, MA. But Miceli apparently asked her to keep quiet (Miceli later denied the whole account, even though the church later reached a settlement with McLean).
On June 4, 1974, John Geoghan gave 13-year-old Frank Leary, fifth of six children from a destitute family, a summer job at St. Andrew’s Parish in Jamaica Plain and fondled him. After repeated molestations, a complaint was filed to St. Andrew’s pastor Rev. Francis H. Delaney, who initially denied it then remembered after being given a letter rejecting it.
Following the complaint, Bishop Thomas Vose Daily conducted a thorough investigation and acquitted John Geoghan with “one phone call”. After Geoghan confessed to Rev. John E. Thomas that he had molest seven boys, Daily put him on sick leave and he proceeded to see doctors Robert Mullins and John H. Brennan.
Geoghan returned to Dorchester on February 25, 1981, where he reportedly raped and fondled a youngster and lured others at an ice cream parlor in Jamaica Plain. The archbishop of Boston, Bernard F. Law, dismissed him from his position on September 18, 1984, and reassigned him to St. Julia’s Parish in Weston a month later.
On December 7, 1984, Auxiliary Bishop John Michael D’Arcy complained to archbishop Bernard F. Law, but Michael D’Arcy was informed Geoghan had “fully recovered”.
John Geoghan was taken for treatment at the Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 1989, when he was diagnosed with homosexual pedophilia.
On April 28, 1989, Bishop Robert Joseph Banks forced Geoghan out of the ministry. He spent months in The Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut. His release record stated he had “moderately improved”, yet he was spotted “proselytizing” with a kid at a pool in October 1991.
He retired in 1993 and moved at the Regina Cleri retirement home for priests. Three years later, he was back in therapy at the Southdown Institute in Ontario, Canada.
Verdict & Murder
John Geoghan was charged with molestation in 1991 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, despite having abused hundreds of boys and few girls over three decades. In January 2002, he was sentenced to nine to ten years in jail for indecent assault and violence.
He was first transported to MCI-Concord, a medium-security prison, where he was harassed by guards and other convicts who despised him as a way to get respect. He was then placed in protective custody at Lancaster’s Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center.
In Lancaster prison, he allegedly boasted about his child molestation methods and that he would fly to South America to work as a missionary after his sentence. In response, Joseph Lee Druce, a self-described white supremacist, killed one of his abusers and was sentenced to life without parole.
Druce planned Geoghan’s murder for a month before strangling him to death in his cell on August 23, 2003.
Estimated Net Worth
Estimated net worth of John Geoghan is unknown.
In June 2007, a video of prison guards trying to open John Geoghan’s locked cell was published to YouTube.