Sex abuse, the Spotlight movie, and my Catholic high school

by Bruce A. Smith

I just saw the movie “Spotlight” on Netflix, and it brings related issues to the surface, such as the Mauck murders in Graham in 2007 and on-going sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

To begin, “Spotlight” is a great film, and it won the Academy Award for Best Picture last year, 2015. It is the story of how the Boston Globe broke the story on the rampant sexual abuse by clergy in Boston, and how insidiously the Catholic Church covered up the raping by compromising law enforcement agencies, and manipulating the Massachusetts legislature and judiciary. But more importantly, the culture of unquestioning acceptance fostered by the Church was even more widespread and compelled journalists, attorneys, families, and victims to remain silent.

Father John Geoghan (pronounced “Gaygan”) was the Boston Archdiocese pedophile who got the Spotlight story going. He was later arrested, convicted, and incarcerated in the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Worcester County, Massachusetts, according to published accounts.

Geoghan was murdered in 2003 while in prison, and a Massachusetts criminal named Daniel T. Tavares – but soon to become a Graham, Washington resident – was rumored to be implicated in the murder by allegedly allowing access to Geoghan by leaving a door open. Tavares was released for “Good Behavior” in June 2007 despite his 120 Department of Corrections (DOC) citations for violence while in custody, along with two outstanding warrants for his arrest stemming from assaults on prison guards. After his release, Tavares took a flight to Sea-Tac, married a Graham woman, and then six months later killed his Graham neighbors, Brian and Beverly Mauck.

Every newspaper in Washington covered the story, including yours truly for the Eatonville Dispatch. Additionally, the Boston Globe – the Spotlight paper – also sent a reporter to Washington and investigated these homicides. The Mauck murders played big in Boston as it put Mitt Romney in a bad light, because as the former Massachusetts Governor, Romney had placed all the correctional people in place who had released Tavares.

Republican Presidential candidates John McCain and Rudy Giuliani focused on the story and clamored, essentially: Sure, Mitt talks tough on crime, but look at the bozos he hired in Massachusetts when he was Governor. They let that wacko Tavares out of jail and he then killed that sweet couple from Graham, Washington.

After enduring daily coverage of the Mauck murders in the Boston papers, Romney lost the New Hampshire primary even though he was ahead in the polls before the Maucks incident. Two months later though, Romney’s 2008 presidential hopes were dead as well.

However, a year or so ago I got a call from a guy who said he was Mitt Romney’s private security chief before the Secret Service took over in 2008. He told me that my story on Tavares and the Maucks, first written for the Dispatch, later posted at the Mountain News, and now re-told here in a briefer form, rang truer than anything he heard from the Secret Service, FBI, or local law enforcement.

I reported that the Maucks may have been killed to produce the exact outcome their deaths achieved – sandbag the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. Further, I’ve come to believe that Tavares is like a sleeper agent along the lines of the fellow in the “Green Mile” movie – a felon who is kept on ice in prison until he is needed to do some nasty or dangerous work for someone. Then he released, does his deed, and gets sent back to jail where he kept safe and presumably comfortable. To explore this hypothesis, I have attempted to visit or communicate with Tavares, who is in custody at the maximum Washington State penitentiary known as Walla Walla, but the WA DOC is unresponsive to my requests.

To understand the outrageous theory of “sleeper agents,” it is necessary to dig more deeply into this story.

To begin, Brian and Beverly Mauck were killed in the 30500 block of 70th Ave East Graham, just south of 304 St. and just east of the intersection of 304 and Mt Highway. Before their murders they had had a drink at the Roundup Tavern with friends, and Daniel Tavares was there as well, but Daniel was not sitting with the Maucks. Nevertheless, they knew him and were friendly.

Why they were killed is just speculation to this day. The official version floated to the media and family was that Daniel was owed fifty bucks by Brian for a tattoo and came over to collect, met resistance, and violence ensued. Another version claims Brian dissed Daniel and a fight erupted. The facts don’t add up, though.

Daniel came over after 11 pm, at least, and probably much later than that, perhaps 1 am. Court documents estimate that the attack occurred about 7 am. Nevertheless, Beverly was asleep in the bedroom, and Brian was sleeping in a lounge chair watching TV. Daniel either broke in the door to gain entrance, or walked in with it unlocked and then later kicked in a portion of it for reasons that are still unclear. Daniel shot Brian with a .22 caliber pistol, execution style behind the ear, according to official charging papers and sources connected to the cops, such as the Starbucks barista who served them later in the Graham Safeway who says that’s what the cops told her.

After Brian was shot, Beverly entered the living room and struggled with Daniel. The grappling extended onto the front lawn – where a solo pink sneaker inexplicably was  visible when I arrived at the crime scene the next day – and then Daniel and Beverly re-entered the house. Beverly struck Daniel in the face hard enough to give him a black eye, apparently, but eventually Daniel shot her fatally, too, in the head with the .22. Daniel then swept up the blood into a pile in the living room, placed both bodies there and put a coarse blanket or floor rug over the bodies.

Daniel then left and joined his wife, Jennifer across the street in their RV trailer. Jennifer and Daniel lived on a large spread of land – hundred of acres – and lived there with Jennifer’s parents and her brother, “James,” whose name I have changed for privacy’s sake, along with his family in a large extended, rambling, working-class kind of way. Lots of bulldozers and backhoes around, etc.

James saw the opened door the next morning and called the cops. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department (PCSD) responded. But two weeks prior, surveillance teams of FBI agents and Washington State Patrol (WSP) detectives had been spotted in the woods around the Tavares/Mauck neighborhood, too.

The Public Information Officers (PIOs) for the respective agencies eventually told media that these teams had been on the lookout for Tavares on a mutual aid assist at the behest of the Massachusetts DOC via the Boston office of the FBI on a skipped probation appointment by Tavares. Initially, they claimed they had searched for Daniel unsuccessfully for two weeks throughout Pierce County and the Puget Sound, even though Daniel and Jennifer were collecting food stamps and other DSHS benefits. In addition, the MA DOC had Daniel’s Graham address because having Jennifer as a fiancée was part of his early release deal.

Later, the WSP said they had found Tavares, posted a detective at his RV trailer, and awaited an arrest warrant from Massachusetts, which never arrived.

However, I wonder if these surveillance teams were either scouting suitable targets for Daniel to whack, with the goal of causing a stink for the Romney campaign. Or the FBI agents, whom I call a “White Hat” squad were looking for “Black Hats” – unknown bad guys who were scouting out targets for Daniel or some other nefarious job for him to perform.

Brian and Beverly were cute and full of life. They were perfect targets for a visual, media-driven incident. I believe that if Brian and Beverly were fat and forty they would still be alive, but other cuties would not.

The Brian and Beverly double homicide was the first murder story I covered. I had started writing for the Dispatch about a year earlier, and had just begun writing full-time so I was careful not to get too pushy with the PCSD or the family. Nevertheless, over the course of the next few months I confronted the PCSD and WSP on several occasions, and in response they prevailed upon my editors to pull me from the story. In total, I was kicked off the story three times over the next eight months.

I was able to talk my way back onto the story twice, but the last time I just threw in the towel. However, before I left a senior member of a Pierce County “public safety” agency gave me a heads-up in private one day, following a meeting on an unrelated story:

“Bruce, if you pursue the Mauck case, you are going to have to go so far underground that even your mother will have to be convinced that you are dead. Those are the kind of  people you are dealing with. They can blow up an entire town just to get one guy. That’s the kind of people they are – they don’t care.”

Plus, I was surprised by how far the family colluded with the cops. The family appointed a “contact” person for the media, Zack Somebody, and he lied to me at every juncture. Now I see a kind of Reverse-Stockholm Syndrome in play, where families of those killed violently bond irrationally and completely with the cops and seemingly believe everything they tell them. And the families hate the media. Every member of the Mauck family that I have tried to contact has rebuffed me.

The collusion in Massachusetts was also extensive. I spoke with Daniel’s first Public Defender (PD), Eugene Lumelsky, appointed for the early release hearing in the spring of 2007. Lumelsky told me that he and everyone knew that Tavares was bad news, and that he would never agree to a deal that would put Tavares back on the street. When the PD made his views clear, however, the case was removed and reassigned to another jurisdiction. A new PD was appointed, who agreed to the early release deal the state was pushing for, and then a Worcester County Superior Court judge, Kathe Tuttman, was found to also sign-off on Tavares’ release. Tuttman was a Romney appointee, and later she was the first to be thrown under the bus.

The “sleeper agent” theory developed over time. First, I discovered that Tavares had found Jennifer online, through a dating site for felons. But, Tavares was not allowed to have any Internet access at any time for any reason in his maximum security prison, and the DOC told me that Tavares must have had a third-party act as his intermediary. But I think that Internet, porn, movies, etc., are part of the deal for doing nasty stuff on-call and then having to spending time in prison afterwards. So overall, it’s a comfy deal. Probably has air conditioning, refrig, beer – the perks of being able to pull a trigger when asked. But I can’t prove it. Not yet.

The official story of Geoghan’s death is that a fellow inmate, Joseph Druce choked him and jammed the cell door closed so that prison guards could not rescue the priest. However, this is not what I learned in conversation with another reporter, who claimed it was Tavares, not Druce, who allowed two prison guards to slip into Geoghan’s cell, and they killed the priest. Tavares then took the rap for the guards, who were never punished.

Nevertheless, published reports state that Tavares tried to insert himself into the Geoghan murder scenario by telling prison officials that he knew through prison gossip that Druce was lying, and that Druce had given access to the guards, who did the actual killing.

Regardless, Tavares got his early release – if not in part for helping kill Geoghan then for other, more appropriate, contributions to criminal justice. He took officials to a dumping ground for murdered prostitutes in New Bedford, MA, and although never claiming responsibility for killing the women, he identified at least one and gave the cops plenty of information to pass onto the families. By the way, Daniel was in prison originally for killing his mother by stabbing her a dozen times or so with a butcher knife. He also tried to kill his step-father and a neighbor who tried to intervene during the incident. In addition, Daniel’s father, who lives in Florida, told me that he is still afraid of Danny.

Locally, Tavares supposedly made a plea deal for the Mauck murders, and told Pierce County prosecutors that he would confess if they took the death penalty off the table. Wanting to “spare the family of the ordeal,” officials agreed. But since Danny confessed they then didn’t have to hold a trial, so none of the “facts” had to be exposed to the public.

Another tidbit is that Danny wrote death threat letters to Romney from prison, and the Secret Service had put Tavares on a watch list. Romney was in Seattle on his first campaign visit to the PNW the night that the Maucks were killed. Coupled with the fact that the surveillance teams were pulled from the Graham woods two weeks before the Mauck murders – and thus two weeks before Romney was scheduled to appear in Seattle – it’s incredible that the FBI/WSP units would be told to stand down just before they would be needed most.

Surprisingly, another association to Spotlight has popped up. The priestly sex abuse and cover-up are still rampant and obvious.

In early June of this year, MSN ran an online report that a Father James Williams was under suspicion for sex abuse with students at an elite all-boys Catholic high school named Chaminade, located in Mineola, New York. The school is my Alma Mater, and the news really caught my attention.

Williams was long after my time (Class of ’67), but he was the President of the school from 1999 until 2011. Then he disappeared or left the school – not quite sure which happened first – and is now gone, believed to be in deep isolation in some Vatican-related facility in Italy.

My home town’s Top Cop – the Nassau County District Attorney – issued an arrest warrant for Williams this May, after having received notice of the abuse fifteen months earlier in February of 2015. Really? They waited that long? But, now they say that the one victim doesn’t want to press charges. But CBS-TV did speak with another student who said that Williams was a sexual predator and very slick.

But, the NY Times has yet to assign a reporter to this story even though Chaminade graduates include Bill O’Reilly of the O’Reilly Factor on Fox (a fellow ’67 classmate), and the current and past Nassau County Executives. All the NY Times ran was a reprint of an Associated Press report on the DA’s ruling. Nothing else. And nobody is running ANY follow-up. Not Long Island’s major newspaper, Newsday, nor CBS, apparently, or even the AP or MSN. When I Google the story I get zip.



This entry was posted in Back East, Cops and courts, Family, Graham News, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sex abuse, the Spotlight movie, and my Catholic high school

  1. Galen Cook says:

    Good story, Bruce. Why haven’t you been a guest on “The Factor?”

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