An inmate accused of killing former priest John J. Geoghan in prison pleaded innocent Friday to murder, then exited his arraignment screaming "Let's keep the kids safe!" and "Hold pedophiles accountable for their actions!" Joseph L. Druce allegedly beat and strangled Geoghan in the priest's cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass., on August 23. Druce, 38, is serving a life sentence for the 1988 murder of a gay man.
In letters to several newspapers, Druce has identified himself as Geoghan's "exterminator" and said pedophiles should be castrated. He's also boasted that he killed Geoghan to "avenge the children." In U.S. district court in Worcester, Mass., 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 and said, "Not guilty." Druce's attorney, John LaChance, has said he plans to seek an insanity defense. Geoghan, 68, was serving a nine- to 10-year sentence for groping a 10-year-old boy and was accused of molesting nearly 150 other boys over a period of three decades. His case triggered the infamous sex scandal that has rocked the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.