John Geoghan killed in prison
August 23, 2003 3:22 PM   Subscribe

It may be Massachusetts, and he may be a former Catholic priest, but today John Geoghan got the death penalty. News of Geoghan's death at the hands of a fellow inmate will likely do little to provide closure for his 130 alleged victims, or repair any wounds from a scandal that tested the trust and faith of a great many people.
posted by PrinceValium (44 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
well, prison justice is not exactly the death penalty. it's even more savage, but what can you do, some people need the thrill of the "he had it coming" thing. let them celebrate.
me, I'd rather think that trial by jury is "the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." I'd rather get my Philosophy of the Law from Thomas Jefferson than from a bunch of prison thugs
posted by matteo at 3:31 PM on August 23, 2003


The real downside here is now that its been established that pedophile priests might be killed in prison, the Catholic church will continue to empty its coffers into better lawyers and do more to cover-up these collar-wearing child molesters' crimes. Also, expect bigger "hush money" settlements and "forgiving" DAs and judges giving slaps on the wrist.

> John Geoghan got the death penalty.

No he didn't. He was illegally killed in prison.
posted by skallas at 3:43 PM on August 23, 2003


Perhaps the priest ran into one of his former "altar boys" in the big house.
posted by davidmsc at 3:47 PM on August 23, 2003


It's not clear from the article that this was a retribution killing... although I suspect it probably was. Let's not jump to conclusions, perhaps Geoghan merely ran afowl of some random killer in prison.
posted by jonson at 4:04 PM on August 23, 2003


Is it okay to feel bad for him? He was 68, died a bloodly and lonely death. I know what he did, and yet I feel sad at this news.
posted by pejamo at 4:31 PM on August 23, 2003


Quote:
" It's not clear from the article that this was a retribution killing... although I suspect it probably was."

In a sense, that is correct. (Known) child molesters are among the most likely to be killed in prison by other prisoners, because of what they did.

There are some things that are repugnant everywhere.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:39 PM on August 23, 2003


Clearly the best thing about the US justice system is the way that people are killed inside jails. Or maybe it's widespread prison rape. Yeah, rape, that's what makes Justice.
posted by Nelson at 5:00 PM on August 23, 2003


> (Known) child molesters are among the most likely to be killed in prison by other prisoners, because of what they did.
There are some things that are repugnant everywhere.

Before awarding Geoghan's killer with a medal for acting out this natural law of "repugnance," one might reflect upon how common male rape is in prison, where many of the victims are younger and frailer than their assailants. Some guys in prison have to draw a bright line in their minds between what they do and what people like Geoghan did, and blood is the brightest line of all.
posted by digaman at 5:05 PM on August 23, 2003


I'm not sad, I'm fucking angry. Angry not only at our justice system, which refuses to reform/looks the other way/flat-out colludes in the rape, violence, and brutality that goes on inside our prisons (which hold a full 2% of the population), but also at the public, such as those who comment in this thread, who applaud such injustice as well.
posted by dgaicun at 6:42 PM on August 23, 2003


Every society has its outcasts, and in prisons it's convicted child molesters. In many prisons, prisoners and guards alike get free shots at them. A former guard at the N.H. maximum security prison in Concord told me that the intake unit used to shave one eyebrow of each child molester ("skinner" in prison parlance) so that his fellow inmates would know his sin.

I'd bet the one who killed Geoghan was a lifer, or close to it. You can get years of free Jell-o Pudding Cups and Barbecue Pringle Singles if you do something so universally celebrated as remove a skinner from population.
posted by sacre_bleu at 6:47 PM on August 23, 2003


I would bet his notoriety got him killed, moreso than his crimes.
posted by mischief at 6:56 PM on August 23, 2003


Good! I hope he suffered too.
posted by WLW at 7:20 PM on August 23, 2003


This injustice! I hear that said. Yet 130 registered victims at the hands of a pedophile. This dish of justice was served cold, and I consider it to be justice because a murder removes that person from the population but pedophelia damages a person for life. This is almost a universal understanding.

I may sound bigoted to some of you, I know. But doing that much to kids isnt really about the religion, its about taking away something from a victim. I do have a question: Is pedophilia developed by sexual abuse at an early age?
posted by Keyser Soze at 7:58 PM on August 23, 2003


I'm glad that I quit listening to WEEI. Gerhardt Callaghan will be masturbating to this on Monday morning.

WLW- How medieval of you. I hope that instant karma looks you right in the face.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:04 PM on August 23, 2003


pedophelia damages a person for life. This is almost a universal understanding.

most acts of pedophilia involve simple touching. how does this damage a person for life, unless the adults they trust exclaim "oh my god! you've been damaged for life!"? most 'universal understandings' are bullshit. this one is hysterical bullshit.
posted by quonsar at 8:18 PM on August 23, 2003


our justice system, which refuses to reform/looks the other way/flat-out colludes in the rape, violence, and brutality
Although I have a conflict about the pros and cons of prison justice, the deciding factor is that I do not want to pay any more taxes toward improving things.

BTW: Good point, quonsar!
posted by mischief at 8:35 PM on August 23, 2003


quonsar, in most cases it's the psychodrama conjured up by the molester which causes the damage. In many molest scenarios, there's a seduction which later causes guilt ("I should've known not to go with/trust/take the gift from him.") and then a nexus of threat, blackmail, quasi-Stockholm Syndrome, and so on. It's not the touching, it's all the stuff that surrounds it.

That said, I'm afraid that I cannot muster up too much sympathy for Geoghan. The good reverend should have been well acquainted with the concept of reaping what you sow; he wrought psychological violence on 130 victims and was meted out a return portion of physical violence by one man with nothing to lose.

It's not something that should happen, in an ideal world, but then, in an ideal world, people in positions of extreme trust shouldn't be able to diddle little kids. I'll save my righteous indignation to be exerted on behalf of innocent victims, and Geoghan wasn't one by a long shot.
posted by Dreama at 8:59 PM on August 23, 2003


Kevin Freeman was a homeless man in Berkeley jailed for public intoxication and murdered by his cellmate.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:01 PM on August 23, 2003


130 molested, one molester murdered. I live in Massachusetts, am not a Catholic and haven't followed the case too closely, but even I felt a sense of relief seeing the headline on CNN.com.

It's a strange, inexplicable sense of relief... especially after a Friday filled with thick, heavy heat, a finale of drenching rain and then a bizarre orange glow throughout sunset that made all of the colors of the city look slightly off until the night finally fell. It was a truly unique evening, for anyone who experienced it...

This morning I woke to clear skies and a healthy New England breeze. When I read the news, I couldn't help thinking of that storm last night and how today smelled like the first day of Fall.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:13 PM on August 23, 2003


Prison violence sucks. Except in movies, then it's cool.

That being said, it's times like these when I wish that I believed in a Hell that this overprotected skinner shit-dick could burn in.
posted by majcher at 9:17 PM on August 23, 2003


When I read the news, I couldn't help thinking of that storm last night and how today smelled like the first day of Fall.

rural rustic fenceposts fill me with unspeakable lusts. the sunbleached gray complexion, the way they lean, the termite tunnels and, oh god, the scraps of rusty barbed wire draped saucily from old, bent nails...
posted by quonsar at 9:21 PM on August 23, 2003


This is the second time Druce has made headlines. Apparently he had a little white powder issue in 2001...

Joseph Druce, 36, an inmate at the Cedar Junction state prison in Walpole, was charged with mailing a threatening letter containing white powder and indicating it was contaminated with anthrax.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:22 PM on August 23, 2003


I'm from Boston, and I've been the most outspoken person I know with regards to these molestors and how the Church has covered them up. I think Geoghan was sick fuck who deserved to be locked up forever. I think those at the top of the church hierarchy should do time for covering it all up. I think every priest who's abused a child should have to be confronted by his victim, and made to feel the anguish that he caused. But I don't understand how anyone can feel good about this.

I felt an ache in the pit of my stomach when I heard it. How dare we call ourselves a civilized society when we can let brutal murders happen right under our justice system's nose? And how can we expect them to keep our streets safe if they can't even keep this from happening in their own prisons? And how dare anyone feel good about something so horrible?

I know exactly how I sound right now, and I know I'll be derided as some sort of self-righteous pollyanna, but this is fucking disgusting. And anyone who considers this "justice" has fallen behind the evolutionary curve, and should think long and hard about the kind of world they want to live in, and about how they define "civilization".
posted by jpoulos at 9:34 PM on August 23, 2003


The good reverend should have been well acquainted with the concept of reaping what you sow

Dreama, that's outrageous. This should make even 111 blush.

If you want child molestors and rapists to get fucked in the ass, violently beaten, humilated, tortured, and painfully executed, fine, then let's suspend the cruel and unusual punishment clause and put this backwards power in the hands of the system, jurors, and the public.

All this shows me is that you celebrate mafia justice, when the law doesn't go your way - which is rather frightening.
posted by dgaicun at 9:47 PM on August 23, 2003


I hope all the spleen thats getting vented here prevents some road rage or something.

quonsar's is the most sensible comment on the thread.
posted by goethean at 9:59 PM on August 23, 2003


each and every one of those children may be scarred for life because of this fuck's need to get off on little kids. the fact that it's tied to the church and it's an abuse of trust is scary. the epidemic going on all over the country is sickening!

i've read theories that people with perverted sexual desires seek church duty to get closer to god- in an effort to squelch their sinful thoughts. and that this of course later just ends up driving over the top, committing acts of abuse and just general fuckwittery.

i don't necessarily support mob justice, but i do find it interesting that high profiles get killed so often.. jeffrey dahmer died in jail too. he had young victims..
posted by shadow45 at 10:03 PM on August 23, 2003


Since some of you are all celebratory over this guy's death, I thought I would remind you that it's over for him now. He does not have to reflect on what he did, he does not have to sit in the man-made hell that he was going to spend at least nine years in, probably more in the long run since more cases were bound to go to trial. He will not have to face his crimes as more victims come out of the darkness to speak. In a sense, he is free now.
posted by bargle at 10:10 PM on August 23, 2003


And how can we expect them to keep our streets safe if they can't even keep this from happening in their own prisons? And how dare anyone feel good about something so horrible?

Once I didn't feel this way, but now my thought on the matter is that if you do not condemn acts of violence in prison, you are not just hurting the rapists and child molester, but every person that gets sent to prison, a portion of which probably do not belong in prison to begin with.
posted by bargle at 10:20 PM on August 23, 2003


I certainly don't want to be percieved as defending a serial pedophile and I'm not about to lose any sleep over one going to his justly deserved reward.

But, I would be curious to know how/why the system broke down. This is someone who was perecieved (rightly) as at risk and placed in protective custody. Despite the heinous nature of his crime he was not sentenced to death and the high profile of his crime should have made him relatively safe. Somebody messed up.

I find myself more interested in the insular nature of prison culture than I am in the death of one pervert. If this murder had happened anywhere else we would be flooded with details; however, because it took place in a prison all we get are what the corrections department chooses to tell us. Massachusetts' penal system isn't exactly founded on principles of due diligence and full disclosure and considering the number of incarcerated people in this country, it would be nice to see a little more independent oversight.
posted by cedar at 10:41 PM on August 23, 2003


Good point, cedar. Of course, since the alleged perpetrator is already serving a life sentence for murder, it's doubtful that a great many billable hours will be going into the prosecution of Geoghan's killing.

I doubt that too many people, including sex assault victims, are going to be celebrating over this. Violence is violence. Now all we've got is one dead person to add to the list of wounded.
posted by PrinceValium at 10:59 PM on August 23, 2003


Also, what the hell are murderers doing in medium security, hobnobbing with elderly perverts and mob accountants?
posted by PrinceValium at 11:06 PM on August 23, 2003


> How dare we call ourselves a civilized society

All "civilized" means is "they live in cities." That's bound to be associated with more pathologies, not less.
posted by jfuller at 6:03 AM on August 24, 2003


The man was a molestor. He ruined hundreds of lives. He was also a 68 year old man who was strangled to death by some white supremacist fuck. All of you rooting for some dirtbag skinhead suck too.

Divorce the man from his crime for a second and consider being old and helpless and attacked by some skinhead with nothing to lose. Consider the fact somehow this man has gotten to you when you're supposed to be in solitary. And think of how awful those last moments were. The idea that someone "deserves" that is silly. We have a justice system to deal with people. Sorry it doesn't mete out rough justice like "You're sentenced to die at the hands of recidivist fuck for your crimes," but we're supposed to be better than that. I realize the system isn't perfect, but there's no system that can give those ruined lives back. I'm sorry about that too.
posted by yerfatma at 9:03 AM on August 24, 2003


Also, skallas, your opinion on religion counts for shit. Your comment (which has been track-backed by someone even blinder than thou) would be the same as suggesting cops will stop policing themselves because a former officer is killed in jail. There are some people in each orginization who joined to do good. In fact, that's the point of each, whether you care to believe it. People in power do awful things to protect themselves and their group. Power corrupts. You know the rest. If you're calling for an end to organizations, go ahead.
posted by yerfatma at 9:11 AM on August 24, 2003


>He was also a 68 year old man who was strangled to death by some white supremacist fuck

His Age has nothing to do with it. He got off light, but he definately deserved his death. At least the white supremacist was good for something.
posted by WLW at 9:52 AM on August 24, 2003


I'm afraid I just can't conjure up any great emotion for the slime, yerfatma. So he died in terror. Many people do. Does he deserve it? It doesn't matter. He was an evil man, and I expend no emotional energy on his suffering. If I'm going to have energy on this, it'll be toward the victims.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:53 AM on August 24, 2003


What dgaicun said.
posted by y2karl at 9:57 AM on August 24, 2003


Sorry, it just doesn't do it for me. If I'm going to be "fucking angry," it'll be towards the system that allowed him to prey on 300-odd children.

I feel only the greatest indifference toward the dead man. In solitary or dead, he's a cancer removed from society. Yes, the prison system needs fixing. But not for his specific sake.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:57 AM on August 24, 2003


If I'm going to be "fucking angry," it'll be towards the system that allowed him to prey on 300-odd children.

Why can't it be both?
posted by jpoulos at 1:32 PM on August 24, 2003


>Why can't it be both?

Why should it be both?
posted by WLW at 1:35 PM on August 24, 2003


In a sense, that is correct. (Known) child molesters are among the most likely to be killed in prison by other prisoners, because of what they did.

There are some things that are repugnant everywhere.


Along with digaman's insight above, that prisoners may want to draw a line between themselves and molesters, I think it's important to remember that the society of prisons is basically "might makes right", which is to say, those lowest on the totem pole are the physically weakest, unless they've got some other kind of usefulness (connections on the outside, sex value, etc) that can get them protection from a stronger member. Child molesters don't tend to be tough mofos, and they don't tend to have serious networking skills. I think some of you are giving prisoners too much credit as moralists.
posted by mdn at 1:56 PM on August 24, 2003


...consider being old and helpless and attacked by some skinhead with nothing to lose.

How about we consider being young and helpless instead? Now, lets multiply that times 130.

To quote FFF, I can't muster anything more than the greatest indifference for this man. At least he wasn't expecting guidance and compassion from his violator, as his victims were.
posted by untuckedshirts at 7:48 AM on August 25, 2003


a quick memo for our "he got what he deserved" contingent: feel free to enjoy the pleasant details of the execution:

Geoghan was bound, gagged, strangled, and stomped by a fellow inmate who followed the notorious child molester into a cell Saturday afternoon while one prison guard was distracted with other prisoners and another officer was temporarily away from the area, according to correctional officer union officials.

The fellow inmate, Joseph L. Druce, then jumped from Geoghan's bed onto Geoghan's chest at least twice, the officials said.

"An officer heard a noise, went over to the cell, and he saw Geoghan on the floor, gagged and tied," said Robert W. Brouillette, business agent for a 5,000-member corrrectional officer union. "Druce was standing on the bunk."

(...)

Geoghan, hands tied behind his back, was strangled with either one of his T-shirts or a bed sheet, and beaten, Brouillette said.

Druce used one of Geoghan's shoes or sneakers to tighten the sheet or shirt, another union official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. "He twisted the shoe to tighten the ligature around Geoghan's neck," the official said. "It all happened in a matter of minutes."

Brouillette said six or seven guards, alerted by a commotion in the cell, rushed to the scene but were unable to immediately open Geoghan's cell because, he said, Druce had jammed it from inside, perhaps with a stick.


of course, the brand of "justice" some users here seem to appreciate was delivered by 37-year-old Joseph L. Druce, a convicted murderer with a white supremacist past
posted by matteo at 8:55 AM on August 25, 2003


I'm about as wrought about this as I am about the treatment of mass-farmed chickens. Sickened that this sort of thing happens, but I don't care that it happened to this individual chicken. Let's eat him for supper.

Honestly, for all the inhumanity and suffering in this world, there are millions of people more deserving of my emotions than Geoghan. I'll give it up for the Haitians, for the lepers, for the Iraqis, and for the anonymous, generic prison inmate... but not for this man specifically.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:49 AM on August 25, 2003


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