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Alleged Victim Testifies In Assault Trial Of Ex-Priest

Jan 16, 2002 | CNN.COM The man, now a junior in college, told the jury in Middlesex County Superior Court in Massachusetts that John Geoghan had offered to help him learn to dive when the incident happened.

"As I dived into the pool, Father Geoghan grabbed my butt," he said in a soft voice. "I felt a hand going up the back of my leg. ... It went up my right leg and reached my butt and my butt was squeezed."

But a defense attorney said in opening arguments that Geoghan was helping the boy out of the pool, and that his hands were merely pushing the boy up. The witness denied that the incident occurred as he was getting out of the pool.

But a defense attorney said in opening arguments that Geoghan was helping the boy out of the pool, and that his hands were merely pushing the boy up.

The witness denied that the incident occurred as he was getting out of the pool, but the alleged victim's mother testified that she had been with her son at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club on the day in question, and that he had told her after the incident that Geoghan had touched him as he was climbing out, but was not helping him get out.

"I asked him if he was just helping and he said, 'No, ma, he was touching me. He touched me naked,'" she said.

Defense attorney Geoffrey Packard focused much of his cross-examination of witnesses on a 1999 civil lawsuit filed against Geoghan. The mother testified that she "didn't ask for money" in the lawsuit, "we just asked for closure."

The trial was recessed for the day just after 1 p.m., and will resume at 10 a.m. Thursday. The jury could begin deliberations later Thursday.

Geoghan, 66, has been accused by more than 130 people of sexual abuse during his 30-year tenure in six different parishes. His last assignment was St. Julia's parish, in the wealthy Boston suburb of Weston.

Boston Cardinal Bernard Law apologized last week for appointing the man parishioners knew as "Father Jack," but he defended his decision.

"However much I regret having assigned him, John Geoghan was never assigned by me to a parish without psychiatric or medical assessments indicating that such assignments were appropriate," Law said.

Geoghan was defrocked in 1998.

The Catholic Church has already paid out $10 million dollars stemming from 50 civil suits filed in connection with Geoghan. Eighty-four more suits are pending.

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