The former priest whose conviction for child abuse in the archdiocese of Boston sparked the scandal that shook the Catholic Church across America, died on Saturday after he was attacked by another prison inmate. John Geoghan, 68, died at Leominster Hospital, Department Of Correction spokeswoman Kelly Nantel. He had been tied up, beaten and strangled. He was being held at the Souza-Baranowski Correction Centre, about 30 miles northwest of Boston. Geoghan was said to have been kept in a protected area of the prison to shield him from the general prison population, but still had some contact with other inmates. The person who attacked Geoghan is being held in isolation and the incident is under investigation, Nantel said. Geoghan was convicted last year of indecent assault and battery for fondling a 10-year-old boy at a swimming pool. In September 2002, the archdiocese settled with 86 Geoghan victims for 10 million dollars. In ongoing civil lawsuits, more than 130 people claim Geoghan sexually abused them during his 30 year as as priest in several Boston parishes. Geoghan is said to have targeted boys from broken homes, befriending them and then betraying their trust by sexually molesting them. His trial early last year revealed that Boston Archdiocese knew of the many complaints against him but moved him from parish to parish without investigating his behaviour. As the case progressed, it emerged that the archdiocese had ignored hundreds of other allegations over the past 60 years, involving dozens of priests. The Geoghan case was one of several that led to the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law last December. Soon dioceses across the USA came under scrutiny for their handling of abuse allegations over the years, and many further scandals were uncovered. Hundreds of court cases are still underway or pending. More than 325 priests out of 46,000 American clergy were either dismissed or resigned. The US bishops have now introduced strict child protection guidelines throughout the church. Fr Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, offered prayers for Geoghan and his family.
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