Convicted of sexually molesting a 10 year-old boy in 1991, defrocked Boston priest John Geogan was sentenced yesterday to 9-10 years in Massachusetts state prison. At his sentencing, Judge Sandra Hamlin stated, “This man hid behind his collar,” and called Geoghan’s action “reprehensible” and “depraved.” Geoghan, who denied the charges against him, had previously been diagnosed a pedophile four times according to the Boston Globe. Geoghan was sentenced last month for indecent assault on a minor and still faces 84 civil suits and 2 criminal trials of sexual abuse against a minor. In total, Geoghan has been accused of molesting more than 130 children over the course of the last 30 years.
Since the publicity spurned by the Geoghan trial, the Boston Archdiocese has released the names of more than 90 priests suspected of allegedly sexually abusing children to district attorneys in at least five counties. Dioceses in several other states, including New Hampshire and Maine, have also released the names of priests who are accused of pedophilia.
Despite the large numbers of accusations, the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. has no uniform policy to address sexual abuse by clergy. Last month, the Vatican determined that priests suspected of pedophilia should be tried in secret ecclesiastical courts presided over by their peers, other priests, rather than civilian courts. The Vatican, however, was silent on whether a bishop should inform secular authorities, such as the police, if a priest is found guilty in the ecclesiastical court.
Media Resources: New York Times, 2/22/02; Boston Globe, 2/22/02; Feminist Daily News Wire
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SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
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