Report on Geoghan’s death to keep some details secret

December 30, 2003
Category: Uncategorized

Telegram & Gazette

By Karen Nugent


A much-awaited official report on the prison murder of defrocked priest and convicted child molester John J. Geoghan will likely be ready sometime in January, a state official said yesterday.

But the entire report will probably not be released to the public. Certain parts will likely be withheld because of legal issues, said Christine M. Cole, deputy chief of staff to Edward A. Flynn, secretary of the state Department of Public Safety.

“I’m not able to make a prediction on what will be released, because we don’t know the final contents of the report,” she said.

Authorities said Mr. Geoghan, 68, was choked and beaten to death Aug. 23 by a fellow inmate at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center on the Lancaster-Shirley line. The murder case against the inmate, Joseph L. Druce, 37, has yet to go to trial.

Gov. Mitt Romney ordered the state investigation a short time after Mr. Geoghan’s death. The report is supposed to examine whether Department of Correction officials and employees followed proper procedure in the handling of Mr. Geoghan and Mr. Druce.

The criminal case against Mr. Druce, along with personnel issues, witness statements and specifics of the Criminal Offender Record Information law were mentioned by Ms. Cole as reasons for keeping portions of the report secret.

Personnel concerns pertain to state Department of Correction employees working at the maximum-security prison, she said. Witness statements, she said, would be omitted because they could compromise the prosecution of Mr. Druce, although he freely admitted killing Mr. Geoghan because he hates child molesters.

The CORI law allows the public to obtain a list of a criminal’s convictions and jail sentences over a certain period of time.

“Some things cannot be released because they are not in our jurisdiction,” Ms. Cole said. “I am certain in saying the secretary (Mr. Flynn) has every intention of making sure the public is apprised of the report.”