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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Defrocked Priest Killed

Aired August 25, 2003 - 20:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with the death of a defrocked priest. John Geoghan, a convicted child molester and a central figure in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, was killed over the weekend at a Massachusetts prison. And an inmate who allegedly hated homosexuals will be charged with murder.
Meanwhile, the attack has sparked some controversy over prison security.

Joining us to discuss the story is Farah Stockman of "The Boston Globe."

Good of you to join us. Welcome.

FARAH STOCKMAN, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Thank you.

ZAHN: So, Farah, let's talk a little bit about all the negligent questions that are being asked tonight about why Father Geoghan was in the population of prisoners that he found himself in.

STOCKMAN: I think, actually, the real question that is being asked is why the man who killed him was there.

The place where Geoghan was killed was a special protective unit. It was for particularly vulnerable people. Geoghan was frail. It was a place not for bullies, but kind of the opposite of bullies, a place for people who would have been targets in the general normal population. So Druce, with his violent past and somebody with a history of having murdered a homosexual man, or a man he believed to be a homosexual, that's the question. Why was he there? What was he doing there?

ZAHN: If you could for folks who aren't familiar with the circumstances leading to his death, walk us through exactly what happened.

STOCKMAN: Well, Saturday morning, the cell doors opened in this protective unit.

And Father Geoghan and the man who killed him -- or allegedly killed him -- Joseph Druce, walked out. They were putting their lunch trays in a common area.

And Druce walked in to Geoghan's cell, put a book in the crack above the door so that no one could open it and tied his hands behind his back with a T-shirt, gagged him, strangled him and beat him, threw him to the floor. The whole thing took place in about seven minutes. It was over. Guards couldn't open the door. And when they finally did, Geoghan was dead.

So a lot of the new details emerged today about exactly how could this have taken place. And we're learning more as time goes on.

ZAHN: And, Farah, it also became clear in some reports today that Mr. Druce may have had this attack in the planning stage for some time. Does your reporting support that?

STOCKMAN: Yes.

Actually, Druce told investigators that he was proud of what he had done, that he had planned it for about a month, and that he hated homosexuals. He was cooperating very openly. Worcester County district attorney John Conte told reporters today that he believes that Druce felt Father Geoghan was a prize and that he was very -- he felt like a hero for what he had done.

ZAHN: Farah Stockman, thanks to you for bringing us up to date on this story tonight. Very much appreciate your joining us.

STOCKMAN: Thank you.

ZAHN: Father Geoghan had been accused of molesting nearly 150 boys over three decades. And some of his alleged victims say Geoghan's death will bring a premature end to their search for justice.

Joining us from Boston are two of his alleged victims. Phil Cogswell and Michael Linscott join us tonight from Boston.

Welcome.

MICHAEL LINSCOTT, ALLEGED VICTIM: Thank you.

PHIL COGSWELL, ALLEGED VICTIM: Thank you.

ZAHN: Phil, I'm going to start with you this evening.

When you heard the news that Father Geoghan had been murdered, what did you think?

COGSWELL: It was pretty late at night, actually, when I heard it on my answering machine. Initially, I was -- somewhat relief, because of my proximity to the prison that I thought he was in. And I was just -- initially, that's how I felt, a little -- quite a bit of relief.

ZAHN: So, Phil, you even felt vulnerable while Father Geoghan was in prison?

COGSWELL: Yes, yes, for some -- just physically and emotionally, it was just -- I'm too uncomfortably close to the prison. I was thinking of moving anyways. And I thought he was at a different -- I thought he was at that prison facility. ZAHN: Mike, are you relieved like Phil or are you like some of the other victims we have spoken with, who indicated that they think it would have been preferable for Father Geoghan to suffer in prison over a long period of time?

LINSCOTT: Well, I have to say, yes, I feel that it would have been a lot better had Father Geoghan lived and had a chance to do 100 years or more and face more of his accusers in a courtroom. And they could at least have some kind of satisfaction of being able to say, you got us when we were kids, and now we're getting justice.

ZAHN: That seems to be an opinion that is pretty prevalent among some of the victims' family members we have spoken with today.

I want to share with our audience something Phil Saviano had to say. He represents the Survivors Network. And he talks about how some victims might even feel a sense of responsibility for Father Geoghan's death.

Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL SAVIANO, SURVIVORS NETWORK OF THOSE ABUSED BY PRIESTS: All of us are very troubled by this. We were pleased that he was in prison, because he needed to be off the streets. And we felt, as long as he was in prison, then children were safe from him. But none of us ever meant for the prison sentence to be a death sentence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAHN: Do you agree that, Mike?

LINSCOTT: Yes. I do. I do agree with that.

And no one -- well, to put it bluntly, he got off easy. The prison that we all live in is still here. And he's moved on.

ZAHN: Phil, there is a lot of talk tonight about how it was that Father Geoghan ended up with Mr. Druce. I think you might have heard Farah Stockman of "The Boston Globe" just talking about some of the questions that are being raised. Do you have any strong feelings about that and the justice system and how some allege that Father Geoghan was basically left unprotected in this case?

COGSWELL: Well, historically the -- the abuser, the child abuser, is set on by prisoners in their own culture. And that seems to be the way it played out here.

It hasn't for a long time. I felt like he was probably well protected, being in lockdown for 24 or 23 hours a day. So I'm a little surprised that that indeed is what happened. But it is an indication of the way people in prisons have such vehement anger for someone like a child molester, that they would go and kill him.

ZAHN: Mike, we just have about 15 seconds left. What have you been told about how your case may proceed against the Catholic Church?

LINSCOTT: Actually, very little.

This in particular really has no bearing. And the only bearing I believe this will have -- his death I'm speaking of -- is the fact that those who have cases -- that would be having cases pending in which they would be able to face him will be denied that opportunity.

ZAHN: Well, Phil Cogswell and Michael Linscott, I know this is not an easy time for either one of you. Thank you for sharing some of your thoughts with us this evening. Good luck to both of you.

COGSWELL: OK.

LINSCOTT: Thank you very much.

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