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Time Limit Disputed in Rape Case

February 21, 2002

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BOSTON (AP) _ A prosecutor says child rape charges filed against a defrocked priest do not exceed the state’s 15-year statute of limitations for the crime.

Attorneys for former priest John Geoghan say the charges should be dismissed because the alleged victim made a molestation accusation in 1986.

The court should apply the 10-year statute of limitations that existed then, argued Geoffrey Packard, Geoghan’s attorney. The current 15-year time limit on child rape charges took effect in 1996.

Prosecutor David Deakin said the charges, which were filed in 1999, are based on specific allegations that were made in 1989, well within the 15-year limit he said applied to the case.

The hearing is scheduled to continue Friday. Geoghan’s trial had been set to begin Wednesday but was delayed after the defense motion was filed last week.

Geoghan, 66, was convicted last month of fondling a 10-year-old boy in 1991. He is to be sentenced Thursday, and could face up to 10 years in prison.

The victim in the current case testified Wednesday that he told his mother details of the alleged abuse at age 11, in 1986.

``I recall telling her everything,″ he said. ``About the sex abuse, fondling, and oral sex.″

The specific allegation of oral sex, the act on which the rape charges are based, wasn’t made until 1989, the prosecutor said.

Since 1995, more than 130 people have claimed Geoghan fondled or raped them during the three decades he served in Boston-area parishes.

Under pressure following Geoghan’s conviction, Cardinal Bernard Law gave prosecutors the names of more than 80 active and former priests accused of abuse during the last four decades.

The Archdiocese of Boston said Wednesday it was suspending a pastor in Abington following allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor. Nine priests have been suspended since the archdiocese’s new policy was announced.

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