Sentenced....9-12 Years! Molested over 130 Children
February 20, 2002
Geoghan: Convicted at last
Last week's Middlesex County criminal trial against defrocked Boston priest John Geoghan may
have seemed anticlimactic. But nearly 40 years after he began molesting children, the disgraced
clergyman has finally landed behind bars.
BY KRISTEN LOMBARDI
IT WAS FRIDAY, January 18, just after 2 p.m., and emotions were running high at Middlesex
County Superior Court. Moments earlier, the first criminal trial against John Geoghan — the now-
infamous defrocked Boston priest suspected of molesting as many as 130 children over three
decades — had come to a dramatic close. Since 1996, when Geoghan's pedophilic improprieties
first surfaced in the news, the once-beloved and idolized clergyman had been publicly disgraced.
But he had never before set foot inside a prison or even a police station. And so, a hush fell over
the courtroom as the jury handed down his fate. "Guilty as charged," the verdict sheet read,
convicting him of one count of indecent child assault. A bailiff then escorted the 66-year-old child
molester out the door.
Reporters, photographers, and camera crews from the New York Times, the Providence Journal,
People magazine, Court TV, CNN, ABC News, Reuters, and virtually every local news outlet
swirled around the courtroom. They gravitated toward four of Geoghan's adult accusers who had
come to the trial not to testify, but to witness the five-day proceedings.
Mark Keane, a slight, serious 32-year-old who says Geoghan assaulted him in the mid 1980s,
struggled to absorb the outcome. "I cannot put into words my feelings," he said. Keane is one of
86 people who are suing the former priest, along with officials at the Archdiocese of Boston, in 84
pending civil lawsuits. Though the statute of limitations prevented him from filing criminal charges
against Geoghan, he felt vindicated today. "I hope [Geoghan] is changing into an orange
jumpsuit," Keane said with delight, "and I hope he brought his toothbrush."
Across the lobby, Maryetta Dussourd, 57, was also beaming through the thicket of lights, lenses,
and microphones. "I trusted that truth would prevail," said the Jamaica Plain mother who had
complained to her parish priest in 1980 that Geoghan was assaulting her three sons and four
nephews. She laughed and pressed her rosary. "I'm so ecstatically happy that he'll finally be in
jail." Geoghan, who may receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, is awaiting
sentencing in the Cambridge Jail atop the Middlesex County Courthouse. (A date for the
sentencing hearing was to be set on Wednesday, January 23, after the Phoenix went to press.)
It was an emotionally charged scene. After all, this trial was the opening legal gambit in the
biggest sexual-abuse scandal ever to hit Boston. And while the Church was unnamed in this
particular criminal case, Bernard Cardinal Law, the archbishop of the Boston archdiocese, and five
other bishops have all been named in various combinations in the 84 pending civil suits — one of
which has been filed by the victim in this criminal trial. Meanwhile, Geoghan faces more severe
criminal charges — indeed, two counts each of child rape and child assault — in Suffolk County
next month. If the Middlesex trial attracted a media spectacle, just imagine what kind of circus-
like frenzy will surround the upcoming criminal cases. During last week's trial, members of the
press vastly outnumbered court observers (which included some of Geoghan's 100-plus victims),
and the media horde came away from the proceedings palpably hungry for more — something
they'll undoubtedly get in February.
It's no wonder the press was left unsatisfied. The case centered on a fleeting encounter during
which Geoghan, widely known as "serial predator," touched a boy's bottom at a Waltham pool in
1991. But given the build-up before the Middlesex trial — the horrific allegations, the twists in civil
litigation, the archdiocese's high-profile apology — the actual proceedings were, in the end,
unremarkable. While Geoghan ranks among the most notorious priest pedophiles in the country,
you would never have gathered that from this trial. The Middlesex case represented the national
media's introduction to the sprawling and sordid scandal, but it left many reporters scratching their
heads. One stringer for a national newspaper privately wondered why Middlesex district attorney
Martha Coakley bothered to prosecute the case at all. "In the larger context," the reporter
explained, "this has meaning. On its own, the case falls flat."
Even Coakley, who used to head up the Middlesex County Child Abuse Prosecution Unit, alluded
to the prosecution's weak case in a prepared statement read after the January 18 verdict:
"Although allegations in this case to some may have seemed slight," Coakley said, "those of us
who work with children ... know that one incident of unwanted sexual contact or conduct can be
harmful to the victim and have a long-lasting effect."
NEW YORK CITY — An upstate New York priest was arraigned on multiple counts of sexual abuse of
children. He allegedly photographed a 14-year-old girl in the nude and was caught when he submitted the
film to be developed. Fr. James Kent Stansell, 36, was arraigned and jailed in lieu of $10,000 cash bail.
Stansell was accused of photographing the victim nude and in sexually suggestive positions. He was
charged with 10 counts each of sexual abuse of children for photographing or videotaping, possession of
child pornography and corruption of minors.
BUFFALO — An assistant pastor from a Lewiston church was arrested for public lewdness. But Fr.
Benedict P. Barszcz, 35, has not yet been reassigned though the diocesan chancery is examining the
situation. Barszcz is accused of masturbating in front of two girls, ages 14 and 15, while sitting in a car on
at about 5:20 p.m., according to police reports.
After the man who exposed himself drove away, the girls and their families reported it. Police later pulled
Barszcz over and took him back to one of the girls' homes, where the two girls identified him as the man
who had exposed himself, family members said.
He was then charged with misdemeanor crime. While being booked in police headquarters, he gave his
occupation as priest.
BROOKLYN — Three men, former students at St. Cecilia's School, have come forward to speak about what
was done to them around the early 1980s by the school's then-administrator and supervisor of altar boys, Fr.
Patrick Sexton, 49.
One of the former students said that when he was 12,Sexton lured him to his bedroom in the church rectory.
He said the naked priest had him strip and adopt poses while snapping photos.
One of the men, Daniel Dugo, has gone to the police and to the district attorney, charging that when he was
8, Sexton fondled him while nibbling his ear. He first approached the Brooklyn Diocese, which offered him
offering $15,000 in exchange for silence.
The police and the district attorney told Dugo that even if the nearly 20-year-old charges are true, there is
nothing they can do. The statute of limitations is up. However, a police source familiar with the case said the
district attorney is continuing to investigate.
No longer a practicing priest, he lives across the street from a playground and a public school in Queens. A
neighbor said he gives music lessons after school to boys.
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