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Ex-priest given 9-10 years in prison

John Geoghan  

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- A defrocked Roman Catholic priest received the maximum sentence on Thursday in Massachusetts for molesting a boy a decade ago.

In handing down the sentence of nine to 10 years in prison, Judge Sandra Hamlin said John Geoghan's behavior was "reprehensible," and that he represented a danger to other boys.

"He was in a position of trust and authority and he violated that trust," Hamlin said. "He refuses to accept any responsibility for his sexual molestation."

Under the guidelines of the sentence, Geoghan may be considered for parole after six years in prison.

Preparations were under way for another trial against Geoghan for a child rape alleged to have occurred in 1986. Geoghan, who was defrocked in 1998, served Boston-area parishes for 30 years.

Geoghan, 66, was convicted last month of indecent assault and battery against a 10-year-old boy in 1991.

The boy -- now a college student -- testified that Geoghan reached under his swimming suit and grabbed his buttocks while the two were in a pool at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club.

Prosecuting attorney Lynn Rooney told Hamlin that Geoghan "represents a danger to all young boys" in Massachusetts because of his admitted long history of sexual contact with young boys.

An evaluation at a state mental hospital, she said, suggested that Geoghan had "no cognitive structures ... available to him to deter him from further" such contact. Rooney recommended the maximum sentence, nine to 10 years in prison, which would make the former priest eligible for parole in six years.

Defense attorney Geoffrey Packard argued for a sentence of intensive probation for his client, citing Geoghan's age and the one-time nature of the crime for which he was convicted.

Packard urged Hamlin to "not adopt the draconian sentence recommended by the prosecutor."

More charges pending

Geoghan still faces two criminal charges and dozens of civil lawsuits. More than 130 people have accused him of sexual abuse.

Geoghan had been expected to go on trial Wednesday for the child rape, but the start of the trial has been delayed while the judge in the case considers motions.

The Associated Press reported that under pressure following Geoghan's conviction, Cardinal Bernard Law gave prosecutors the names of more than 80 active and former priests accused of abuse during the last four decades.

The Archdiocese of Boston said Wednesday it was suspending a pastor in Abington following allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor. Nine priests have been suspended since the archdiocese's new policy was announced, the AP reported.

Also, a former chancellor for the Catholic Diocese of Worcester was removed from his pastorship at St. Mary's parish in North Grafton because of an allegation involving sexual misconduct with a minor in 1967, according to the AP.

The Rev. John J. Bagley, a former official at the Vatican, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, according to diocesan spokesman Raymond L. Delisle.




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