September 26, 2003

Associated Press

The Massachusetts Appeals Court vacated the child molestation conviction of former priest John Geoghan, who was killed in prison while his appeal was pending.

The ruling is customary under Massachusetts law when convicts die mid-appeal and attorneys seek to have their convictions voided, but it still disappointed Geoghan’s victims.

“It’s as though the reporting of father John J. Geoghan’s sexual abuse, his trial, and the jury decision never existed,” said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents many of the defrocked priest’s alleged victims. He said the law should be changed.

Geoghan’s case triggered the sex scandal that has rocked the nation’s Roman Catholic Church. He had been serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy and was accused of molesting nearly 150 boys over three decades.

Last month, the 68-year-old was strangled and beaten to death in his prison cell, allegedly by fellow inmate Joseph L. Druce. Druce has pleaded innocent to murder.

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