Patricia Mcdonnell  /  AP file
Former Catholic priest John Geoghan at a hearing in Cambridge, Mass., in a November 2001 file photo.
updated 2/4/2004 7:03:28 PM ET 2004-02-05T00:03:28

Prison guards criticized by investigators for writing “overzealous and unwarranted” disciplinary reports against defrocked priest John Geoghan did not have a grudge against the notorious pedophile, a union president said Wednesday.

A commission investigating Geoghan’s murder said in a report Tuesday that the disciplinary reports helped lead to the transfer of the frail, 68-year-old Geoghan from a medium-security prison to the maximum-security prison where he was killed.

Geoghan, a central figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal, was beaten and strangled to death Aug. 23. Joseph Druce, an inmate serving a life sentence for murder, is charged with killing him.

Steven Kennaway, president of the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, said the guards had no grudge against Geoghan, as the investigators claim. He said that while Geoghan was at medium-security MCI-Concord, correction officers wrote up nearly a dozen disciplinary reports because Geoghan refused to follow prison rules.

Priest may have threatened litigation
Kennaway said Geoghan had trouble taking orders and threatened to “turn his lawyer loose” on them when he was cited for having a banned hot pot in his cell.

“He came to prison, and this was a guy who couldn’t believe that he was told to make his bed or to stand up for count,” Kennaway said. “He could not adjust to that.”

“The rules have to be applied whether the inmates are 18 years old or 68 years old.”

Kennaway said two of the officers mentioned in the report attempted to deal with Geoghan’s alleged violations informally, as allowed under Department of Correction rules. But he said Geoghan continued to violate prison rules, and the guards began to write up disciplinary reports against him. The names of the guards were redacted from the report.

Public Safety Secretary Ed Flynn, who appointed the investigative commission, said the investigation found the disciplinary reports “were more the result of personal animus against (Geoghan) than serious infractions that required formal findings.”

For relative, death was lapse in 'chain of command'
Geoghan’s sister, Catherine Geoghan, said she was gratified that the investigation confirmed the harassment she said her brother endured. But she said supervisory officials at the Department of Correction should share the blame for her brother’s death.

“The responsibility for my brother’s wrongful death goes up the entire chain of command, to the highest levels,” she said in a statement issued through her attorney, Tim O’Neill. “I will not rest until names are named and the full details of this shameful murder are in the public forum.”

Flynn said the report will be forwarded to state prosecutors. A separate panel, appointed by Gov. Mitt Romney, is investigating the entire prison state system to determine if the problems cited in the Geoghan probe were widespread.

At the time of his death, Geoghan was accused in civil lawsuits of molesting nearly 150 children over three decades and was serving a 9- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy.

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