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Child Rape Charges Reinstated Against Defrocked Priest

Aug 30, 2002 | AP

A judge reinstated two child rape charges against defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, restoring the two most serious criminal counts against the priest whose case ignited the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle's ruling reversed a decision she made in March, when she said prosecutors had waited too long to indict Geoghan. The indictment came three years after the statute of limitations expired, she ruled.

In a separate case, Geoghan is now serving a six-year prison sentence for fondling a 10-year-old boy in a public swimming pool in Waltham in the 1990s.

The Geoghan case sparked the current clergy abuse scandal after court papers released publicly in January revealed Geoghan had been moved from parish to parish even after church officials learned of allegations of sexual abuse against him. Geoghan is also named in 86 civil lawsuits alleging abuse.

In a third case, he is charged with two counts of indecent assault and battery on a child for allegedly fondling a Weymouth boy in 1995 and 1996 as the priest drove the boy around downtown Boston.

Hinkle's reinstatement of the two charges was posted on a court docket Thursday, but her full ruling was not immediately available. The charges date to the early 1980s, when Geoghan allegedly fondled and orally raped a boy who was between 7 and 10 years sold.

Prosecutors declined to discuss the ruling.

Geoghan's lawyer, Geoffrey Packard, said he was disappointed.

"I think (Hinkle's) first decision was well-reasoned and thoroughly researched and seemed to come out in the right place." Packard said he would appeal Hinkle's ruling.

Meanwhile, in a separate civil case, a judge said she had "significant concerns" about the credibility of abuse allegations against two priests.

The comments from Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney, came after an attorney representing a man who claims he was molested by a high-ranking official in the Boston Archdiocese has asked to withdraw from the case, a move which could result in the lawsuit's dismissal.

Eric J. Parker, the lawyer for Paul Edwards, has filed a motion saying "issues arose, central to the allegations" by Edwards in his civil case against the archdiocese and the Monsignor Michael Smith Foster.

Parker's motion did not specify what the issues were, but he said he can "no longer effectively represent" Edwards.

"We are hopeful that next week's hearing will result in the ultimate dismissal of these false allegations against a truly gifted and exceptional priest," Foster's attorney, Joseph L. Doherty Jr., said in a statement. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Sept. 4.

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