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Tuesday, January 24, 2006                                                                                       View Comments

Prisoner: Why I killed paedophile priest

A US inmate who strangled a convicted child molester priest behind bars said tonight that he decided to kill him after the clergyman brushed off criticism that he had “destroyed all kinds of lives.”

Joseph Druce took the stand in Worcester, Massachusetts for a second day at his trial for killing John Geoghan, who was serving time for groping a 10-year-old boy and had been accused of molesting 150 other children.

Druce, 40, said that in the weeks before the killing he twice confronted Geoghan about molesting children.

Instead of denying the accusations, Geoghan was “arrogant” and said he was worth far more than the millions the Boston Archdiocese had paid to settle lawsuits against him, Druce testified.

“I was just, like, ‘That’s it. That’s it. I’ve got to stop this,”’ Druce said. “I couldn’t get it out of my head.”

After Geoghan was dead, Druce said, he felt relief: “It had been done. It was over … I had peace of mind.”

Druce, who is already serving a life sentence for another killing, is using an insanity defence, arguing that his own molestation as a child and years in prison had filled him with rage.

Geoghan helped spark the sex scandal in the Roman Catholic Church after court records were found showing that Boston Archdiocese officials allowed him to continue having contact with children even after the abuse allegations surfaced.

Druce did not describe the actual killing, but was asked by his attorney, John LaChance, to describe what was going through his mind during the August 23, 2003 murder and the weeks leading up to it.

He said he heard Geoghan talking on the phone to his sister and also overheard conversations he had with other inmates about plans to move to South America once he was released so he could work with children again.

In one conversation, Druce said, he overheard Geoghan discussing with other inmates how to molest young boys.

“That just, like, freaked me out,” he said.

He said that during one conversation, he told Geoghan, “You’re bankrupting the archdiocese, you’re costing them $10m,” a reference to the amount the church had paid out in lawsuits.

Geoghan replied, “I’m worth $20m,” Druce said.

During a later conversation, Druce said, he told Geoghan he had molested 150 to 200 children and “destroyed all kinds of lives.” Druce said Geoghan responded: “I’m worth 300 of them.”

When asked by his lawyer why he killed Geoghan, Druce referred to his claims that he was molested as a child.

“I wanted to get the thoughts out of my mind of being molested myself, and the arrogant way he answered my questions,” Druce said.

He also said he wanted to “make a statement.”

“I had seen myself as the designated individual who had to put a stop to the paedophilia in the church,” he said.