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US pedophile 'exterminator' 'not guilty'

September 22, 2003

WORCESTER, Massachusetts — An inmate accused of slaying former priest John J. Geoghan in prison pleaded innocent to murder Friday, then left the courtroom screaming "Let's keep the kids safe!" and "Hold pedophiles accountable for their actions!"

Joseph L. Druce allegedly beat and strangled Geoghan in the defrocked priest's cell at Souza-Baronowski Correctional Institute in Shirley on August 23.

Geoghan, 68, was serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy and was accused of molesting nearly 150 boys over three decades. His case triggered the sex scandal that has rocked the United States' Roman Catholic Church.

In letters to newspapers, Druce has identified himself as Geoghan's "exterminator" and said pedophiles should be castrated.

He also boasted that he killed Geoghan to "avenge the children." In Worcester Superior Court on Friday, Druce nodded his head as the clerk read the charge that he "did beat and murder" Geoghan.

When asked for his plea, Druce shrugged, grinned at his attorney and said, "Not guilty." Later, he shouted as he was led from the courtroom with his arms and legs shackled.

Druce's attorney John LaChance has said he plans to seek an insanity defense.

Druce, 38, is serving a life sentence for the 1988 murder of a gay man.

Before Friday's proceeding, Druce entered the courtroom's lockup area to cheers of "Druce!" and "way to go!" from other prisoners.

Security had been tightened around the courtroom, with those entering searched in addition to the usual metal-detector screening conducted at the courthouse entrance.

On Friday, LaChance asked that Druce be moved out of the Shirley prison, and Druce interrupted the proceeding to claim he had found spit and feces in his food. But Judge John McCann denied the request. A pretrial conference was scheduled for October 1. –Sapa-AP

Related story
GMax - News: Inmate indicted for prison murder of pedophile priest Prosecution: inmate planned ex-priest's slaying for 'well over a month'


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