“Betrayed and Abandoned” by Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, Families of Many Sexual Abuse Victims Are Still Struggling to Heal

“What was done to our mother wasn’t just unethical, it was abandonment,” says the brother of a Baltimore Catholic girls high school student who recently received $50,000 and an apology from AOB officials, after reporting that she was raped by two Baltimore priests. Adds Emmitsburg, Md., dentist Dr. Michael T. Hargadon, while describing the destructive impact of priestly sexual abuse first on his sister, Jean, and then on his parents and nine siblings:

“My mother had been a faithful Catholic all her life . . . and when she was told her daughter had been abused by priests, she was devastated. She became depressed and was in agony. We begged our parents’ pastor and other Church [officials] to comfort her and help her through her crisis of faith. But they turned away and did nothing, and she suffered terribly. She stood in her kitchen crying at the walls for a year.”

By Tom Nugent

May, 2018 – One year after a shocking Netflix documentary series blew the lid off widespread sexual abuse of Baltimore schoolchildren, a second story about the devastating results of that abuse is just beginning to come to light.

It’s the story of how the Archdiocese of Baltimore has all too often failed to provide spiritual guidance and comfort to the Catholic families of those who were abused, according to numerous interviews with affected family members in recent months.

That failure has been especially painful for a former Catholic parishioner – Jean Hargadon Wehner, now 64 – who says that she and her nine siblings went through a “shattering crisis of faith” after both their parents’ pastor and the high-ranking clergy who run the Archdiocese of Baltimore declined to provide spiritual guidance to their “devastated and suffering” mother in the wake of the abuse scandal, which began to unfold in the early 1990s in Baltimore.

“Soon after I made my formal statement to the Archdiocese [in late 1992] that I had been raped by two priests at Archbishop Keough High School,” says Wehner, “I became aware that my mom was having a hard time. It was horrendous. She had been an incredibly devoted and faithful Catholic all her life – and now she had to confront the fact that her daughter had been sexually abused by these people of good faith.

“She didn’t know where to turn, and she was suffering greatly. And we tried to help with that. We took her to her pastor, [the Reverend] Paschal Morlino [O.S.B.], at the [Baltimore] church, St. Benedict, where she had been a loyal parishioner for many years and had even worked as a receptionist and secretary in the parish office.”

According to Wehner, who became a key figure in the recent Netflix documentary (The Keepers) after alleging that her priest-abuser at her Catholic high school, Father Joseph Maskell,  had shown her the body of a murdered whistle-blowing Keough nun, Pastor Morlino declined to help her devastated mother deal with her spiritual crisis.

“I was hopeful after meeting with Pastor Morlino that he would make an effort to help my mom,” she remembers. “She was one of his parishioners and in great need. Instead, he seemed to disappear.”

Mrs. Ethel Hargadon eventually left St. Benedict, never to return, and then suffered through continuing bouts of severe depression and spiritual anguish for many years.

Wehner’s sister, Kassy Hargadon-Zester (today a licensed marriage and family therapist in the Baltimore area), said that she and her siblings struggled hard to provide their devastated mother with “alternative spiritual [guidance] to help her fill the void. By the early 2000’s, she had managed to find a spiritual home at a neighborhood Bible study group led by a Mennonite neighbor, and also as a member of the Byzantine Catholic Church in Arbutus – which is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

“I think she found a renewed spiritual life outside of what she had known. But Mom carried the pain of her betrayal by her lifelong Catholic church in Baltimore until she finally died of heart failure in 2016.”

According to several members of the Hargadon family, Pastor Morlino, the spiritual leader at their original family’s longtime Catholic Church – St. Benedict, located on Wilkens Avenue in southwest Baltimore – later apologized to them for his failure to counsel their mother during her “hour of need”.

“It was really hard on her,” said Jean’s brother Michael, today a practicing dentist in Emmitsburg, Md. “At one point she was really suffering with all of it, so I went to the pastor and asked him, ‘Can’t you see that she’s stopped coming to [St. Benedict] on Sunday? Can’t you do something to help her?’

“I requested that he meet with Jean and my mom, which he did. Later, however, I learned that he’d told some of my siblings that he was told to stay out of the family struggle – and he did. The family consensus was that the Archdiocese had told him not to become involved, and he chose to follow their orders.”

Pastor Morlino, who has been serving as the pastor of St. Benedict Parish for more than 30 years, confirmed that officials at the Archdiocese of Baltimore had told him “you stay out of it,” after he brought the problem of Ethel Hargadon’s spiritual dilemma over her daughter’s alleged abuse to their attention in the early 1990s.

“I stayed out,” the pastor told Inside Baltimore. But he went on to point out that he’d been advised to send Mrs. Hargadon and other troubled family members to then-Auxiliary AOB Bishop John H. Ricard, S.S.J., who would provide spiritual counseling.

Pastor Morlino also confirmed that he had later apologized to members of the Hargadon family, while noting that “I told them, ‘I’m sorry. . . .’ I didn’t know what to do about it [the spiritual problems that Ethel Hargadon and other family members were experiencing], so I went and spoke to the bishop about it, and they [Archdiocesan officials] said for her [Ethel] to come and see the bishop.”

(Wehner says the message about having her mother “come and see the bishop” was never conveyed to her, however.)

Another Hargadon family member – Jean’s brother Don, who at the time was an active member of St. Benedict Parish (today he’s a practicing fiduciary in the Baltimore area) – also says he tried and failed to get Pastor Morlino to help his mother.

“I had a one-on-one meeting with him in 1994, as I remember, and I asked him why he wasn’t doing anything. That’s when he told me the AOB had told him not to get involved with the family or the situation. I said a few choice words and told him I hoped he understood [the impact of] his decision – and not to expect to see me or my wife Laural again.

“But it should also be noted that I talked to him years later at a family member’s funeral and forgave him. It is on him and the Church now.”

Responding to these complaints by Jean Hargadon’s brothers, Pastor Morlino said: “I never refused to see any of them, and when the brother came to see me I was very kind to him and informed him just as I had informed them – the mother and daughter – that I was told to have them contact the auxiliary bishop John Ricard of Baltimore, and he would provide them counseling.

“I was most sympathetic and caring to the whole family. In fact, I met with Ethel, the mother, more than once after that. I had personally conveyed the message to her in her home about setting up an appointment with Bishop John Ricard and gave her his personal phone number. My hands were tied as to what I was able to do for them.”

Jean Wehner, meanwhile, was careful to note that she blames the Archdiocese of Baltimore far more for the failure to counsel her mother than she blames Pastor Morlino – while pointing out that “it isn’t so much about what Father Paschal did or didn’t do. It’s about a hierarchy that can dictate the actions of the spiritual leader of a congregation.”

Jean’s brother Michael also expressed disappointment at what he described as the Archdiocesan failure to comfort and counsel his mother. “I have never missed an opportunity to complain about my family’s treatment by the AOB,” said Michael Hargadon, who was a parishioner at Holy Family Catholic Church in Randallstown and a Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus Council during his mother’s spiritual struggle in the 1990s.

He went on to say that the AOB’s failure to help caused his family great consternation – and that he tried to enlist the aid of the Archdiocese by contacting Father Ed Bayer, then the pastor at Holy Family Church.  Responding, Father Bayer “wrote a letter to Cardinal [Wiliam] Keeler asking for [help in] healing the rift,” he said.

In his letter to Cardinal Keeler, Father Bayer reportedly said that “Maskell may be out of sight in Ireland, but this family is not. . . . There are an increasing number of people who know about it [the abuse and the neglect of the Hargadons by the AOB] and . . . consider themselves rightly scandalized by it.”

As a result of the Bayer letter, said Michael Hargadon, “Pastor Morlino was instructed to pay a visit to my parents – four years after being told to ‘stay out of it.’”

While the Hargadon Family was Losing its Faith,

Jean Was Being “Attacked” by the AOB’s Lawyers

Jean Hargadon Wehner and her siblings are also quick to point out that watching the Catholic Church fail to comfort their mother and father – who were struggling with the brutal impact of hearing that their daughter had been raped by both Catholic priests and police officers – wasn’t the only injury they received from AOB officials during the 1990s.

According to Wehner, Catholic Church lawyers also did everything they could to besmirch her reputation and destroy her credibility, while requiring her to submit to 21 grueling hours of interrogatories . . . after she filed a 1994 “Jane Doe” lawsuit (along with another plaintiff) in which she contended that she’d been raped by a Catholic priest, Father A. Joseph Maskell, while attending Archbishop Keough High School in southwest Baltimore.

During that lawsuit – which was ultimately dismissed on a technicality when a Baltimore judge ruled that the statute of limitations for filing the case had expired – “Jane Doe” told the Baltimore Sun that Maskell (then the Keough chaplain) had taken her to see the decaying body of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, which was later discovered (Jan. 3, 1970), on a patch of waste ground in the Baltimore suburb of Lansdowne, Md.

Still unsolved after thousands of hours of investigation by Maryland police and the FBI, the shocking case made national headlines recently, when retired Baltimore-area homicide detectives told Huffington Post that the Catholic Church had used its powerful influence to impede their investigation of the Cesnik murder (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/14/cesnik-nun-murder-maskell_n_7267532.html).

The HuffPost’s reports of Church interference in the investigations were further substantiated last year by the Emmy-nominated Netflix documentary The Keepers (https://www.netflix.com/title/80122179), which quoted more than half a dozen abuse victims and other witnesses to that effect.

Although the Church recently awarded Wehner $50,000 and an apology for the “injuries” she received at the hands of Maskell, AOB officials have continued to this day to insist that they knew nothing of the abuse by the Keough chaplain until long after the mid-1990s lawsuit.

But that assertion has been challenged by several other alleged victims who say they reached out to the AOB to report abuse by Maskell – starting as far back as the late 1960s.

During the 1990s lawsuit, says Wehner, attorneys for Maskell, the AOB and the School Sisters of Notre Dame (the teaching order of nuns that operated Archbishop Keough High School) spent many hours contending that she was an unstable, dubious witness whose memories of abuse at the hands of Maskell could not be trusted.

“The Church lawyers deposed me for 21 hours,” Wehner told Inside Baltimore in a recent interview, “and it was deeply traumatic. They were condescending, patronizing, insulting and degrading. I was being subjected to this relentless and painful questioning by their lawyers, while the Church was quietly refusing to provide any spiritual guidance to me, my parents or my family.

“The worst part of all was when they decided to call my prayer journals ‘diaries’ – and then to go through them with a fine-toothed comb. They then proceeded to interrogate me about my prayer and my soul-searching experiences, asking me about passages meant only for me and God.

“I honestly think they saw how fragile I was and hoped I would break. They violated my inner sacred space. This experience has affected me ever since.”

Another 1960s Maskell Abuse Victim, Dr. Charles Franz, Says Family

Was Angered by AOB’s Decades-Long Refusal to Help Them Cope

Like Jean Wehner, now retired Baltimore-area dentist Dr. Charles Franz says his family was deeply affected by the AOB’s failure to help him – and them – after his mother reported that her son was being abused by Maskell in the late 1960s.

“I told my mother what he was doing to me, and she went down to Archdiocesan headquarters and complained,” says Dr. Franz, whose painful story was documented in detail in The Keepers.

“But they did nothing to help her cope with the situation. They soon transferred Maskell [in 1967] from [serving as assistant pastor at] St. Clement Parish [in Lansdowne] to the chaplain’s office at Archbishop Keough High School – but he continued to live in the St. Clement rectory and he went on to stalk me throughout all four years of high school.”

Dr. Franz says his mother was deeply affected by the “betrayal” of the decision-makers at the Catholic Center in Baltimore. “She had grown up as a faithful Catholic,” he recalled during a recent interview, “and she trusted these people completely. And when they let her down, there was nothing she could do.

“She didn’t dare tell my father, because he was a pipe-fitter and a very tough guy – and she was afraid that if she told him, he might go and kill the priest. So she kept it within, and dealt with it alone, and I’m sure that was terribly difficult for her.”

Desperate to get help, the youthful Charles Franz explained his plight to another priest, who was then the pastor at St. Clement [during the late 1960s], Father (later Monsignor) Jack C. Collopy, who he says expressed sympathy for his plight as an abused teenager but declined to confront his clerical superiors over the matter.

Years later, says Dr. Franz, he got to know Monsignor Collopy very well, after the latter became his dental patient.

“He said that he was terribly sorry, but that when he tried to alert his superiors at the AOB that Maskell was abusing students, they responded by threatening to take his pension away if he didn’t remain silent about the abuse.

“I really felt bad for him,” said Dr. Franz, after noting that the priest had died in 2015. “He told me, ‘Charles, I apologize for the way I failed you, but I didn’t have any other [professional] skills to rely on, and I would have had no way to survive financially if I lost my pension.’

“I forgave him, of course, and got on with my life. But the whole thing made me sad – sad about what happened to my mother, and to a lot of other Catholic families as well. And it also made me really cynical – not about the spiritual aspects of Catholicism, but rather the business of the Catholic Church.”

Reacting to Dr. Franz’ description of his mother’s reported complaint about the abuse of her son by Maskell to the AOB in the late 1960s, Jean Wehner pointed out that AOB officials have often insisted that they “knew nothing” about any complaints of sexual abuse by Joseph Maskell until the early 1990s, as the lawsuit against him was gradually taking shape.

“From my very first meeting in the summer of 1992 with AOB representative Father Richard Woy,” said Wehner, “I was told – along with my husband Mike Wehner and my sister Kassy Hargadon-Zester – that I was the first to voice a complaint of this type about Joseph Maskell.

“We then met Charles [Franz] through The Keepers and knew differently. My family immediately wanted to do something to support Charles and thank him for courageously speaking his truth.”



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Law Enforcement Officials in Maryland Are Now Studying Six Unsolved Murders with “Possible Links” To Sex Abuse At a Former Girls’ Catholic High School in Baltimore City

—All six of the still-unsolved killings may be connected
to rapes by two “serial abuser-priests” at former Archbishop Keough High School, investigators say.

“That’s beyond coincidence – something’s going on.”
–A Top Maryland Law Enforcement Official, July 2017

By Tom Nugent

BALTIMORE – More than four decades after the still-unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun who was reportedly killed while attempting to blow the whistle on widespread sexual abuse at her Catholic girls’ high school, law enforcement officials in Maryland say they’re concerned about new findings that may link six different unsolved murders to two priests who were involved in the abuse during the late 1960s and much of the 1970s.

“This [new information] is deeply troubling and it absolutely should be checked out,” said one former high-ranking law enforcement investigator in Maryland recently, after reviewing the new findings by Inside Baltimore. Added the now-retired officer: “As a former investigator, I’m concerned that there may be a pattern here which points to involvement by the abusing priests.”

Another top law enforcement official in Maryland said after learning about new information related to the cold cases: “That’s beyond coincidence – something’s going on and these unsolved murders should be reviewed carefully.”

Three of the unsolved murder victims were teenaged girls and another was a 14-year-old boy. The nun was 26 at the time of her death, and Joyce Malecki was only 20 years old when she died.  Malecki’s still-unsolved murder took place only a few days after the disappearance of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik in November of 1969.

All but one of the killings, which occurred between 1969 and 1981, involved victims with alleged ties to two priests involved in the abuse – Father A. Joseph Maskell and Father Edward Neil Magnus, both of whom taught at the former Archbishop Keough High School in southwest Baltimore – or to two Catholic Baltimore-area parishes (St. Clement in Lansdowne and Our Lady of Victory in Catonsville) where Maskell served or lived frequently for many of the years during the 11-year period of the unsolved murders.

Recently described in a seven-part, Emmy Award-nominated documentary (The Keepers) that was shown on Netflix, the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik took place after she disappeared on November 7, 1969. The body of the second victim, 20-year-old Joyce Malecki – who had been Father Maskell’s parishioner for many years and went to confession and attended summer Bible camps with him – was found dead in a creek at the Fort George G. Meade U.S. Army base six days later.

Father Maskell, who died at age 62 on May 7, 2001, reportedly served as a military chaplain at Fort Meade for several years.

The Malecki cold case was complicated by the fact that the FBI – which is charged with solving murders on U.S. military bases – told this reporter in 2004 that it had “never investigated” the Malecki killing and had “no records at all” related to any investigation of the case by the FBI. (To read a City Paper story about the Cesnik and Malecki murders: http://www.citypaper.com/blogs/the-news-hole/bcpnews-who-killed-sister-cathy-one-of-maryland-s-coldest-murder-cases-heats-up-20170504-story.html.)

But about three years ago, in response to a Freedom of Information request, the FBI reportedly confirmed that it had actually compiled thousands of pages of investigative materials related to the Malecki murder over the years – and then reportedly promised to release them publicly.

As of today, however, almost three years later, nearly 6,000 pages of FBI documents related to the unsolved murder of Joyce Malecki have still not been released, according to sources.

Meanwhile, new information related to four other unsolved killings from that era – all of them involving teenagers – has left cold case investigators asking themselves if the murders might be connected . . . and if they might also be related to the sexual abuse that was taking place at Archbishop Keough High School and several other Baltimore area Catholic parochial schools and churches during that period.

Only a few months ago, a special cold-case task force organized by the Baltimore County Police Department announced publicly that it was reviewing the unsolved murders of two Baltimore-area teenagers in the early 1970s to see if they are linked to Father Maskell’s widely reported sexual abuse at Keough and elsewhere.  (To read a Washington Post story about the cases: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/true-crime/wp/2017/05/05/police-exhume-body-of-priest-as-they-investigate-1969-slaying-of-baltimore-nun/?utm_term=.98ebc04e02a3.)

One of those unsolved murders – the September 1971 slaying of 16-year-old Grace Elizabeth Montanye, whose body was found behind a Catholic Church in South Baltimore after she was reportedly abducted and then killed – has been complicated by the fact that a former Baltimore City Police Department homicide detective told this reporter in 1993 that his 1970s efforts to solve the Montanye murder had been blocked by police officials who were covering the murder up in order to “protect someone”.

According to the now-deceased police investigator, whose story appeared in a 1993 edition of Baltimore Magazine, the Baltimore City Police first ordered him to drop the investigation of the Montanye murder . . . and when he refused to do so, punished him by requiring him to take early retirement because he had been found to be “overzealous” in his efforts to solve the case.

While confirming publicly that they have been re-investigating Grace Montanye’s death in recent months to see if she might have been linked to Father Maskell, the Baltimore County Police task force has also been reviewing the still-unsolved murder of 16-year-old Pamela Lynn Conyers in October of 1970. That Anne Arundel County murder featured an abduction and many of the same physical characteristics that marked the Cesnik, Malecki and Montanye murders, according to police, and the time frame also raised questions about possible links to priestly sexual abuse.

More recently, law enforcement officials in Maryland say they’ve begun looking at two additional unsolved murders of teenagers with circumstantial links to two Catholic churches where Father Maskell lived or preached during the era when the killings took place.

Killed in 1975 was 14-year-old Francis (“Danny”) Crocetti, a Catholic altar boy for many years, whose body was found in a wooded area only a short distance from Our Lady of Victory Church and parochial school. Crocetti had reportedly been stabbed to death with an icepick. Father Maskell served at Our Lady of Victory Church and lived at the church rectory from 1968 to 1970, according to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. He also visited other priests frequently at Our Lady of Victory during the years leading up to the Crocetti killing, while living during much of that time at St. Clement, according to numerous witnesses.

Six years after the Crocetti teenager died, a 13-year old girl named Heather Porter, whose family lived in Lansdowne and reportedly attended St. Clement Church, was abducted and killed.

Her body was found the next day, strangled and stabbed, in a wooded area near Goucher Boulevard in the north Baltimore suburb of Towson. That still-unsolved killing took place in September of 1981.

While police investigators have not ruled out coincidence as the link that connects all six of these unsolved killings, they also say it seems highly unlikely to account for the mysterious deaths – based on their many years of experience as investigators.

“That’s beyond coincidence,” said one veteran Maryland law enforcement official, when asked about the likelihood that five different unsolved murders (Cesnik, Malecki, Montanye, Crocetti and Porter) would all involve victims with alleged ties to Father Maskell or the two Catholic churches (St. Clement in Lansdowne and Our Lady of Victory in Catonsville) where Maskell often lived and/or worked during the period when the killings took place.

The possibility of a police cover-up of the six unsolved killings has also complicated the investigation of these six murders, say experts. In recent months, several witnesses have told the Baltimore news media that they were raped by policemen, as well as by Catholic priests, during the period in which most of the killings took place.

Said one retired Maryland law enforcement official who is familiar with the case: “I think the fact that all of the murders remain unsolved to this day – and that they seem to have so many similarities and links to priestly sex abuse – is very troubling.

“All these killings should be checked out, to see if there’s a pattern here.”



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Baltimore News Media Embarrass Themselves With Spineless Coverage of “Abuse Enabler’s” Funeral – Stories by Tom Nugent and Linda Tiburzi

Sun, TV Reporters Heap Praise
On Archbishop Who Permitted
Sexual Abuse of Baltimore Kids

“Cowardly and Despicable,” Say Critics
Of Pomp and Circumstance at Funeral
For Baltimore Archbishop William Keeler

By Tom Nugent

When former Baltimore Archbishop and Roman Catholic Cardinal William Henry Keeler was laid to rest on March 28 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, the local news media fell all over themselves in an embarrassing display of dishonest journalism that was obviously aimed at pandering to the region’s 500,000 Catholics.

The sanitized coverage of Keeler’s funeral failed to mention the fact that he had reportedly helped to cover up massive sexual crimes against defenseless children throughout much of his tenure (1989-2007) as the Archbishop of Baltimore.

During the mid-1990s, Keeler reportedly presided over a campaign of smears, lies and intimidation (including harassment by Church-hired private detectives) aimed at survivors of rampant sexual abuse at Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough High School, according to numerous abuse victims who later described the attacks in detail.

The wide-ranging 1990s cover-up took place during a massive, $40-million sex-abuse lawsuit against the Archdiocese. In order to fend off the lawsuit, Keeler and his attorneys did everything they could to discredit the plaintiffs . . . while insisting that the alleged abuser-priest at the high school was innocent of all charges.

Only a few years later, however, they defrocked that same priest – while conceding that the compelling evidence of abuse against him was “found to be credible”. Soon after that admission, they began paying a lengthy series of “mediated settlements” to his many victims. Those payoffs, eventually involving hundreds of thousands of dollars, were also accompanied by archdiocesan “apologies” for the abuse that had taken place under his leadership at the high school.

But the story didn’t end there.

As later documented in Inside Baltimore, the niggling payments to the survivors (usually amounting to no more than $20,000-$40,000) invariably required the victims to sign contracts in which they gave up all rights to future compensation . . . forever.

“It was nothing more than financial ‘risk management,’” said one former Keough student who was familiar with the payoff contracts. “They were paying pennies on the dollar, in order to protect against future lawsuits, in case the Maryland General Assembly ever changes the Statute of Limitations on childhood sex abuse – which might open the door to major lawsuits potentially involving millions of dollars.

“It was despicable.”

But none of these deeply disturbing facts made it into the Baltimore Sun stories about the heart-swelling “pomp and circumstance” that dominated the funeral of Archbishop Keeler, who died on March 23.

The headline on the Sun story read:

“Keeler Eulogized as a ‘Wise and Gentle Pastor’”

The story beneath that headline didn’t mention how the Archdiocese – under his direction – had reportedly hired detectives to dig up dirt that might discredit sex abuse victims during the legal proceedings in the mid-1990s.

Instead, Baltimore’s monopoly newspaper breathlessly described “the six U.S. cardinals and 30 bishops” who attended the funeral ceremonies, while also quoting local politicians and Church officials who heaped praise on the reported abuse-enabler.

Nor was there any mention in the Sun story of a former Baltimore-area Catholic parochial school student who had died only a few days before the Cardinal’s funeral.

Unlike the Cardinal, who died at age 86 and was then honored as a “Prince of the Church,” this victim died in her early fifties . . . after a life that her friends described as “endless torture”.

After struggling for years with chronic problems related to her abuse, the victim reportedly expired in the depths of despair.

Who will remember her?



By Linda Tiburzi

                 Linda Tiburzi is a self-described Baltimore-area “thriving survivor of childhood sexual abuse who is now using her voice to empower survivors everywhere to help end sexual violence.” Along with a group of other 1970s abuse survivors at the Catholic Community Middle School in the Locust Point section of Baltimore, she contributed to the court case that put their abuser in prison for four life sentences plus ten years.

I had no shadow.

In my survivor-mind’s eye, I’m sometimes not 56 years old, but 11.

In some ways, I’m still the child who’s searching for honesty, love and compassion.

But when those visions come, I can’t see, because there is no light.

She’s cowering back there in the dark, hiding in fear.

In that dark world, my inner child is buried, left for dead. She’s screaming and hoping someone hears her. Someone must rescue her! All self-worth has been heinously ripped away. Up became down and down became up.

Where does the adult me turn for help? Who will listen? And why does all of this have to be so hard? I’m the only person who can help myself!

For a survivor of child sexual abuse, it can take a lifetime of continuous work on self to achieve any sense of wholeness.
Yes, I struggled. But then the day to begin the real work finally arrived. It was finally time to put on the “big girl” pants.

Time to start confronting my lifelong challenge.

Twenty-two years of therapy, off and on, lay ahead of me.

My psychologist’s job was to guide me. She would hold the candle that lit my path.

Breathe. Now breathe again. The abuser no longer holds a gun to your head.

Bring down the anxiety. Learn to love yourself. Learn to embrace your inner child. Slowly, painfully, I gained coping skills.
Two decades after that difficult beginning, however, fear once again stared me in the face.

Now a pastoral gesture was being offered by the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

My reaction was swift: a flood of memories overcame me.

Panic set in. Now my inner child was angrier than ever. She kicked, bit, spat, and cursed them to the fires of hell. How dare they put a price tag on my head? And so my coping skills kicked in for self-protection. My tears flowed – and they were the warmest I’d ever felt. I imagined cradling the child within me, gently soothing her. I vowed to protect, and we became one. I would finally be the one to tell of the darkest evil. To tell the ones who needed to hear it the most. And I told.

Flash forward: in late March of 2017, a local news anchor announces the death of Baltimore Roman Catholic Cardinal William H. Keeler.

“A kind man. A light of hope.”

But that was far from the reality (and the legacy) of the man I had known – who had actually been an enabler, a pedophile protector, and the keeper of some very dark secrets.

He had conspired to enable and protect clergy, a lay teacher and also a School Sisters of Notre Dame nun within the Catholic parochial school system of Baltimore.

He had made sure that abuser-priests were shuffled around. And that the lay teacher who was my abuser was allowed to continue teaching. He’d also helped to ensure that the nun who was principal of my school (and who had personally witnessed my abuse, along with abuse of other children) later actually became the principal of Baltimore’s Cathedral School.

Thanks to his interference, she was eventually even transferred to an administrative position in Rome.

All of this is historical fact, of course, and these days can easily be found in court documents and grand jury testimony.

The lay teacher at the school where the crimes occurred was later sentenced to four life terms in prison – only because a group of brave survivors came forward to help provide evidence against him.

Cardinal Keeler was Archbishop of Baltimore for 18 years.

Did he protect the innocent and most vulnerable of his flock during the time of his stewardship?

He most certainly did not.

Was he ever held accountable? Absolutely not.

Instead, he was given a funeral fit for a king . . . a lavish spectacle that reportedly included 17 cardinals and 30 bishops from all across America.

Those ceremonies also included numerous politicians.

After the speeches were ended and the high Mass choir stopped singing, he was interred in the crypt below the altar at the downtown Basilica.

His death and his funeral made the front page for days on end.

But now let me tell you about a friend whose life also ended that same week. She was a childhood victim of abuse at a Catholic grade school in Baltimore. I was a close friend of hers, and I watched how her tortured life ended in chaos and agony . . .  decades sooner than the life of the Baltimore cardinal had ended.

The cardinal chose not to protect her.

And there was no pomp and circumstance at her early death. Only sorrow.

The only comfort for those of us who are left to remember her is knowing that her endlessly painful “walk of the survivor” is over. She is finally at peace.

I will continue onward with my journeys.

I will advocate for those who have not yet discovered how to fully strengthen their own voices.

I will listen. I will hold my torch high in the air, hoping to shine light on truth, and on justice.

I am a survivor!




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Baltimore Archdiocese Agrees to $50,000 Settlement with Clergy Sex-Abuse Victim Who Said She Was Shown Body of Murdered Nun

“I’m No Longer Invisible,” Says Woman
Who Told Church, Police she was raped,
Later taken to view nun’s Corpse by Priest

“The Church is Finally Starting to see me!”
–Jean Wehner, after Recent Settlement

By Tom Nugent

January 2017 – A woman who 24 years ago tried to warn the Catholic Church in Maryland that a priest had shown her the body of a murdered teaching nun recently earned a $50,000 settlement from the Archdiocese of Baltimore (AOB) for clergy sexual-abuse “injuries” she reportedly received while attending a Baltimore girls’ Catholic high school in the late 1960s.

The mediated settlement marked the latest startling development in one of the most tangled and perplexing homicide “cold cases” in Maryland history . . . the 1969 slaying of a 26-year-old teaching nun, Sister Catherine Cesnik, who reportedly had been trying to blow the whistle on widespread sexual abuse by two priests at Archbishop Keough High School in southwest Baltimore.

Still unsolved after thousands of hours of fruitless investigation by Maryland police and the FBI, the shocking case made national headlines recently, when retired Baltimore-area homicide detectives disclosed that the Catholic Church had used its powerful influence to impede their investigation of the Cesnik murder (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/14/cesnik-nun-murder-maskell_n_7267532.html).

Now 63 and practicing as a certified Spiritual Director/Life Coach and Reflexologist in the Baltimore area, Jean Hargadon Wehner (CTACC, NBCR) became a highly controversial figure in the mid-1990s after telling police and Church officials that the priest who served as chaplain at her high school, Father A. Joseph Maskell, had taken her to a remote patch of open land near a dumpster a few miles from the school. There, she said, he had shown her the decaying body of her former English teacher.

Both the Church and the police responded – during a high-profile 1990s lawsuit in which Wehner was identified only as “Jane Doe,” reportedly for her own protection – by suggesting that she was an unstable, dubious witness whose memory of being shown the deceased nun’s body could not be trusted.

But the recent financial settlement, agreed to by the AOB last November, appears to lend credibility to Wehner’s account of the deeply traumatic incident she says took place in a deserted area in Lansdowne. The area is located less than a mile from a rectory where the priest had been living prior to the killing.

“I think the Archdiocese of Baltimore now recognizes the credibility of Jean Wehner and the other Keough [sex-abuse] victims as it relates to [Father] Maskell’s horrendous behavior,” said Baltimore-area attorney Sheldon N. Jacobs, who represented Wehner and about a dozen other abuse victims during recent settlement mediation sessions.

Jacobs also noted that he was pleased to have obtained the settlements for his reportedly traumatized clients, before adding: “We were disappointed with the amounts of the settlements, considering what these women went through.”

Wehner agreed that the settlements were low – but then pointed out that she had been more interested in obtaining acknowledgment of the reported sex-abuse crimes at Keough than in obtaining a large settlement during the mediation.

“The Catholic Church did its best to destroy my credibility when I came forward with the information about the priest and the murdered Sister Cathy,” she said during a recent interview with Inside Baltimore. “Their refusal to acknowledge – or act on – the information I gave them was very painful at the time [the mid-1990s] and traumatized me all over again.

“But I have been healing and getting much stronger in recent years, and for me, this [financial] settlement with the Archdiocese of Baltimore opens a new chapter in the history of what happened to Sister Cathy when she tried to defend several of us Keough students from the rampant sexual abuse that was taking place at the high school.”

When asked why the AOB agreed to the $50,000 settlement with Wehner, Archdiocesan Executive Director of Communications Sean T. Caine said via email that the “Archdiocese has had a longstanding practice of promoting healing for victims by offering therapeutic counseling assistance to victims of abuse for as long as it is helpful. . . .

“Victim-survivors are free to engage a counselor of their choosing and the Archdiocese pays the provider directly.  For those victims who wish to have nothing to do with the Church and/or who would prefer to be in control of their own healing, we offer them a one-time financial payment through a non-adversarial process with a retired, non-Catholic judge.  We make these offers without regard to legal liability. . . .  These financial agreements are completely voluntary and are in lieu of any future counseling payments or any other obligations from the Archdiocese.”

The AOB was responding to emailed questions from Inside Baltimore, including this one:

  1. Does the AOB believe that this recent settlement agreement between Wehner and the AOB enhances Jean Wehner’s credibility as an alleged witness who says she reported to the AOB in the mid-1990s that she was shown the body of the murdered Sister Catherine Cesnik by Father A. Joseph Maskell, soon after the nun’s death in 1969?

Two Other Witnesses Claimed To Have Seen Nun’s Body in 1969  

Long debated among police investigators and journalists, the issue of “Jane Doe’s credibility” has been a key element in the labyrinthine history of the still unsolved killing of the 26-year-old teacher and member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND).

But two other recent findings by Inside Baltimore also appear to indicate that the nun’s body was seen by other witnesses with links to both Baltimore-area police and the offending priest who served as chaplain at the high school from 1967 to 1975.

A former high-ranking law enforcement official in Maryland, now retired, said he took a statement from a woman in the mid-1990s who insisted she had been shown the dead nun’s body by a policeman. According to the official, her statement noted that the corpse she saw was “at a different location” from the Lansdowne garbage dump area where it was discovered by two hunters on January 3, 1970. (In recent years, three former Keough students have told Inside Baltimore that they were raped by policemen as part of the abuse they suffered while attending the high school. The record also shows that the offending priest was serving as chaplain to the Baltimore County Police and Maryland State Police during the period in which some of the reported abuse took place.)

A third witness, a longtime parishioner at the Lansdowne Catholic Church where the high school chaplain served as assistant pastor (St. Clement), reportedly told several former St. Clement parishioners that she had also seen the nun’s body at a location more than a mile distant from the dumpster area.

Although Church and police officials later told reporters that Jean Wehner had gotten some of the details wrong when she described her 1969 visit to the dead nun’s body in the mid-1990s, press reports of the day clearly suggested otherwise.

While reporting Wehner’s description of the layout of the area and the physical details surrounding the corpse, a June 19, 1994 Baltimore Sun story concluded that “in interviews with police and the Sun, she [Wehner] provided details about the body that were known only to investigators at the time, and detectives have not dismissed her claims.”

Describing her visit to the deserted field in a recent story in Inside Baltimore, Wehner said that she had been driven there by the sex-abusing Keough high school chaplain, Father A. Joseph Maskell, several weeks after the nun vanished during a shopping trip in Baltimore on the evening of November 7, 1969.

“He told me he would take me to Sister Cathy,” said Wehner, “and he led me to believe she was still alive. I had no idea where we were going. As I walked around a corner, I saw her on the ground. I ran over, bent down, and began wiping maggots off her face.

“As I stared at my hands in shock, Father Maskell leaned over and whispered in my ear: ‘You see what happens when you say bad things about people?’”

Although the AOB two years ago confirmed to Inside Baltimore that “guns were found” in the rectory where Father Maskell last lived – before eventually being defrocked in the wake of “credible” reports that he was a serial sex-abuser – the Archdiocesan officials have always denied having any knowledge of the priest’s involvement in the murder of Sister Cathy.

But the AOB’s frequent denials of a Church cover-up of the murder seem for many observers to have been undercut by other information first published by Inside Baltimore, including the following:

—A retired School Sister of Notre Dame nun – Sister Mary Florita of Harrisburg, Pa., later known by her non-religious name, Marian Weller – said she “knew several of the kids at Keough, and one of them described to me how three or four girls who were being abused by this priest had gone to Sister Cathy for help.” Weller went on to say that “two older detectives” from the Baltimore County Police Department visited her in the mid-1990s and told her:  “We know the priest was involved in Sister Cathy’s murder, and we know it happened because she was about to report the sex abuse at the school.”

—Maryland attorney and Keough High School graduate Teresa Lancaster, who was given $40,000 for her abuse-related injuries by the AOB in 2011 – later told Inside Baltimore that a high-ranking Baltimore law enforcement official who was involved in investigating the alleged Keough abuse told her during an interview in 1994 that “we know the priest was involved and there is nothing we can do about it.” Lancaster said she understood the law enforcement official to be referring to both the Keough sexual abuse and Sister Cathy’s murder in November of 1969. Lancaster also said Father Maskell, reportedly while serving as chaplain to the Baltimore County Police Department, on one occasion allowed two policemen to sexually assault her while he looked on and did not intervene.

—Another Keough graduate who reportedly gave a statement to the Baltimore County Police Department in the mid-1990s said Father Maskell appeared at the school and warned her not to say anything about the ongoing sex abuse . . . while waving a gun at her. Sister Cathy vanished that same day and was never seen alive again.

—Three Keough graduates who each received settlements for “injuries” of $40,000 or more during the past few years have told Inside Baltimore that they were raped by policemen with the approval of Father Maskell.

          Wehner: “My Focus is on the Survivors”

Although she said she feels “empowered and encouraged” by recent news media reports that now appear to support her credibility as the first witness who claimed to have seen the murdered nun’s body, Jean Wehner made it clear that she is “no longer waiting” for police investigators or Catholic Church officials to vindicate her.

“I have been on a long journey of spiritual growth and healing,” she said during a lengthy interview in December, “and I have been greatly helped by my memory of Sister Cathy during that journey.

“She was a very brave woman who tried her best to help those who were being abused and she paid for it with her life. I honor her spirit and I still feel very close to her, even today. And I no longer need to have validation from others about what I witnessed during the crimes that were committed against me and others.

“These days my focus is on the survivors – and especially on those who are still hiding. I want them to know that they’re not alone. They’ll be supported and believed if they come forward to speak. As a survivor, I’m convinced that healing and reconciliation can only occur when there is open acknowledgment of what happened in the past.”

Jean Hargadon Wehner: Statement Read and Filed during Settlement Mediation

Abuse survivor Jean Hargadon Wehner composed the following Statement during her settlement mediation with the Archdiocese of Baltimore last November.

“I entered into this mediation with the AOB with two of my heart’s desires in mind. One was justice for all innocent victims, myself and Cathy Cesnik included. The other was to take back the power the Church took from me, not 45 years ago (that struggle is ongoing), but 24 years ago when I began remembering these crimes against me at Joseph Maskell’s and other hands.

“At that time the Church’s response was a re-raping of me and my family, which had an unfathomable impact on us, individually and as a whole. I now believe the AOB knew that what I was remembering was just the tip of the iceberg. I also believe the AOB paid millions of dollars to keep their secret. By hiding behind the Statute of Limitations, when I by all rights was within my three-year grace period, you left that predator and others free to roam among the innocent. I hold the Catholic Church’s spiritual leaders, who are supposedly ‘called’ to nurture, guide and protect their Church, accountable.

“On this holy day of obligation for practicing Catholics, All Saint’s Day, I want to acknowledge Cathy Cesnik. I believe she was killed in 1969 naively hopeful that she could convince Joseph Maskell and others to stop hurting us girls, not unlike most of the saints of the Catholic Church. After twenty-three years of working with the effects caused me by the terrorizing trauma of being shown Cathy’s dead body by Joseph Maskell, I can speak my truth without fear of what the AOB, the legal system or the police department deem true.

“The torturous abuse I suffered at those evil people’s hands got five times worse after Cathy Cesnik’s death. That said, I do love and appreciate her for trying to help. Cathy Cesnik’s concern for us girls and her efforts to do the right thing will always be a positive example to me and many others.

“Twenty-four years ago, during my ‘dark night of the soul,’ I was made to feel by the AOB not only totally alone in my accusations, but also solely responsible for proving them. I don’t know over the years how many other sexual abuse survivors of Maskell’s have negotiated with the AOB. I do know you’ve recently heard from quite a few of us. You have your proof! I believe the AOB admits the wrongdoing of [Father Maskell] by entering into these [settlement] mediations. As a survivor who was an active member of your Church, I can attest to how important it would have been if my Church officials had supported me. You could have put ads in the papers and invited all broken, wounded and terrified victims to come out from hiding and begin the healing process, no matter what the cost!

“Then, after gathering your solid proof, make a public statement that this man was what you already knew him to be, as stated to me early on in the quiet of my then church rectory, a person capable of committing these horrible crimes. This could have happened during the six months I was meeting with your representatives and lawyer before Maskell was ever removed from his job at Holy Cross Parish in Baltimore. Then he would not have been placed on the AOB’s ‘full-disclosure’ list as a defrocked priest ‘credibly accused’ of being a sexual predator. He would have been tried and found guilty of torturous spiritual, physical and sexual rape by a court of law.

“Innocent victims of your congregations and their families need to hear their Church officials say publicly that these accusations against Joseph Maskell are true. They also need to hear their Church leaders take some responsibility for this, considering as Maskell’s employer, these atrocities happened on your watch.

“I request that you take out ads on the front pages of Maryland and national newspapers stating the number of abuse survivors of Joseph Maskell who have negotiated with AOB over the years, so other survivors will know they’re not alone and/or crazy. Those ads should also state that, ‘We, the official representatives of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, acknowledge the molestation and raping of girls at Archbishop Keough High School from 1967 to 1975 at the hands of our then employee/Church representative Joseph Maskell and others.

“I believe this is one way that true reconciliation can happen.”


Don’t Look Too Long or Too Deep, but Look

                              —A Poem by Jean Hargadon Wehner


“Look me in the eyes.

“Let me see how much you like this. . . .

“Look me in the eyes!!!”


What do I see . . .




What do I see?

A man who is

Crazy Scared

Crazy Mad

Crazy Powerful!

I see eyes that say,

“I see you and will tell others

if you say what you see

in me.”


Eyes that SCREAM

“I will kill you if you say a word!!!”

Eyes that whisper, “You are just like me . . . you like this.”


I know you!

I looked you in the eyes and I saw you.

I was told not to look too long or too deep,

But . . . you made me look


And I saw YOU

I will remember you always!




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Archdiocese of Baltimore Gives $40,000 To Reported Childhood Multiple-Rape Victim … Apologizes For “Pain You Have Experienced”

Payment Also Requires Recipient
To Relinquish Any Future Claims

By Tom Nugent

November 2016 – Reading, Pa. – After more than 40 years of struggling to get the Catholic Church to “acknowledge the crimes” that were committed against her, a Pennsylvania woman who says she was raped by two priests and a policeman while attending a Catholic high school in Baltimore was recently awarded more than $40,000 from an Archdiocese of Baltimore funding program aimed at “promoting healing for . . . victims of abuse.”

The $40,000-plus payment was accompanied by a letter of apology from an Archdiocesan official who wrote to the victim: “I am sorry for the pain you have experienced.”

Most of the money paid to the victim by the Archdiocese of Baltimore came via a check drawn on the PNC Bank of Baltimore. The check number was 313504634, and it was signed by Archbishop William E. Lori.

“This is a huge step forward for dozens of women who have been trying to get the Catholic Church in Baltimore to publicly acknowledge sex crimes that were committed against them during the past several decades,” said the reported childhood rape victim, Donna Wallis VonDenBosch, a nurse practitioner with a master’s degree who is now working on her doctorate. “For the first time that I’m aware of, the Archdiocese is validating our nightmarish experience by confirming on the record that it actually took place.”

In a statement released via email on November 1, Archdiocesan Executive Director of Communications Sean T. Caine said that the money was paid to VonDenBosch as part of a “longstanding practice of promoting healing for victims by offering therapeutic counseling assistance to victims of abuse for as long as it is helpful. . . .

“Frequently, we also include a designated amount that is set aside to be used only for counseling. This was the case for Ms. VonDenBosch, for whom we set aside an additional $10,000 for counseling assistance. These financial agreements are completely voluntary and are in lieu of any future counseling payments or any other obligations from the Archdiocese.”

But there was a catch.

In order to get the $40,000, she had to sign a contract stating that she will never sue the Archdiocese of Baltimore in the future . . . even if the Maryland General Assembly decides to change the law regarding the “statute of limitations” on past crimes involving the sexual abuse of children – a step that could open the door to lawsuits potentially involving millions of dollars.

But the nurse practitioner said she was less concerned about the money involved than about the acknowledgement by the Archdiocese that she had been abused by priests. “I was deprived of my constitutional rights when I was raped by the priests and the policeman,” she said. “Later I went to the Archdiocese and complained about one of the priests who had raped me and who was still alive – and they told me there was nothing they could do, because he was living in Ireland.

“Then I found out that he was actually living not far from me, right in the Baltimore area. For many years after that, I felt like the continuing refusal to acknowledge those crimes was also depriving me of my constitutional rights.”

The April 21, 2016, letter of apology from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, signed by the Associate Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Child & Youth Protection, reads in part: “On behalf of Archbishop Lori, I am sorry for the pain you have experienced.”

The Reading nurse, who has two adult children, said she was raped “repeatedly” while attending Archbishop Keough Catholic High School in southwest Baltimore during the early 1970s.

The first rape took place during a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) picnic in September of 1970, soon after she began attending the high school, she said.

She was 14 years old at the time.

“Father [E. Neil] Magnus, who also taught at the school, appeared at the picnic in the passenger seat of a police car,” she recalled during a recent interview. “I was given a drink that must have had drugs in it, because I became weak and dizzy,” she said. “Then I was called over to the police car, and I saw Father Magnus sitting in it.

“He got out and came over to me and started taking my pants down. Then he put his knee between my legs and forced them apart and began raping me. Meanwhile, a second priest – Father [A.] Joseph Maskell, who had been my parish priest before becoming the chaplain at Keough High School and whom I’d known since the age of 12 – stood there looking on as Father Magnus raped me. And then Father Maskell decided to take his turn, and he raped me.”

Two weeks after the rape at the CYO picnic, she added, the high school chaplain, Father Maskell, summoned her to his office at Keough. “He said he wanted to give me some tests, and he started by having me sit on his lap. Then he told me: ‘You don’t know how to love, and I’m going to show you.’ He started taking my clothes off, after that.

“He raped me, and this pattern continued throughout my next three and a half years at Keough. He would call me to his office, and I dreaded those calls. It was a nightmare that happened again and again. Sometimes, when I go into his office, I’m raped. Sometimes he puts a gun in my mouth and warns me that if I tell anybody what is going on, he will kill my parents.

“What could I do? I was terrified all the time. Going to school each day was agony. I used to try to hide from him under stairwells and anywhere else I could hide. I didn’t dare say anything about the rapes. I thought he would kill my parents! One time a Baltimore City policeman joined us . . . and I saw him pay the priest some money. And then the policeman raped me.

“By that point, I didn’t care if I lived anymore.”

The contract she was required to sign does not directly state that the two priests and the policeman committed the rapes.

But the agreement – in which the Archdiocese is referred to as the “Corporation” – does appear to confirm that the Church regards her as a victim of abuse.

The historical record also shows clearly that both of the priests (now deceased) were credibly accused by many Keough students . . . after the Archdiocese investigated numerous complaints of sex abuse, including rape, at the high school during the period in which the nurse claimed to have been abused.

The priests were never prosecuted, however.

Although she has now been paid more than $40,000, minus attorney fees, the nurse noted that the contract she was required to sign also contains a clause which bars her from ever receiving any additional compensation for the alleged rapes.

After pointing out that she will not be permitted to bring any future compensation case against the Archdiocese, the contract states that she “. . . understands that the law regarding the statute of limitations may change in the future . . .” but that she is nonetheless “now for all time releasing any claims she may have against the Released Parties” [including the Archdiocese and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, among others] . . . “regardless of any legislative change that may occur in the future.”

Asked to respond to some of her assertions about the contract, Director of Communications Caine replied on November 1 with the following statement:

“The Archdiocese has had a longstanding practice of promoting healing for victims by offering therapeutic counseling assistance to victims of abuse for as long as it is helpful and not only for the victims themselves, but for others close to them who may have suffered the effects of their loved one’s abuse. Victim-survivors are free to engage a counselor of their choosing and the Archdiocese pays the provider directly. For those victims who wish to have nothing to do with the Church and/or who would prefer to be in control of their own healing, we offer them a one-time financial payment through a non-adversarial process with a retired, non-Catholic judge.
“We make these offers without regard to legal liability. Frequently, we also include a designated amount that is set aside to be used only for counseling. This was the case for Ms. VonDenBosch, for whom we set aside an additional $10,000 for counseling assistance. These financial agreements are completely voluntary and are in lieu of any future counseling payments or any other obligations from the Archdiocese.”

Specifically, Caine was replying to several questions that had been sent to him by Inside Baltimore, including the following:

Q. Why did the Archdiocese require her to sign a contract in which she agreed to never seek additional compensation from the Archdiocese or the order of teaching nuns at Archbishop Keough High School in the future? Was it because the Archdiocese fears that the Maryland General Assembly will eventually overturn the statute of limitations on sex abuse crimes against children, which would potentially allow claimants to bring massive lawsuits against the Church?

Q. Was the [money] paid to her actually a matter of “financial risk management” by the Archdiocese?

A troubling answer to those disturbing questions came recently from the nurse’s close friend and cousin, Deborah Silcox, a veteran public school system administrator in Maryland who also attended Archbishop Keough High School during the 1970s.

“I watched Donna go through hell for many years,” said Ms. Silcox. “To this day, I don’t know how she survived the torture she endured – the years of confusion, suffering, mental anguish and brutal anxiety. But she has been healing slowly, and today she is much stronger, much healthier, and much more together than she was in the past. She has a beautiful family and a thriving career as a registered nurse with a master’s degree who now specializes in helping sex-abuse victims and other trauma victims to heal.

“I admire her very much and I am very proud of her.

“As for the settlement with the Archdiocese of Baltimore – isn’t it pretty obvious that the $40,000 they have paid her is designed to protect their pocketbooks against future lawsuits? It’s financial risk management, period.

“The Catholic Church is a business, that’s all. The priests are required to remain celibate so that all of their property will remain in the hands of the Church over time – even though the Church knows full well that a certain percentage of them won’t be able to control their sexual urges and will act out by attacking the children in their charge.

“These victimized children are simply the ‘cost of doing business’ for the Church.
This is how the Church keeps its money within the ‘Corporation’ – by restricting the priesthood to males who are required to remain celibate. Only a few days ago, as reported on the front page of the New York Times [http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/02/world/europe/pope-francis-women-priests.html], the Pope himself said publicly that he believed women would be barred from the priesthood forever.

“I find all of this despicable.”



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New Evidence Links Merzbacher Child-Rape Case To Rampant 1970s Sex Abuse at Keough High School, According to Former Police Investigators in Maryland

“The Rapes at the Two Catholic Schools Are Connected”

Keough Priest-Suspect in Murder of Teaching Nun Was
Also Involved in an Apparent Cover-Up of Abuse at
Merzbacher’s School in S. Baltimore, Say Former Cops

By Tom Nugent

June 2015 — Twenty years after convicted child-rapist John Merzbacher received four life sentences plus ten years for his crimes at a South Baltimore Catholic middle school, there is new evidence to show that a later-defrocked, sex-abusing priest at a city Catholic high school was also involved in helping to cover up the middle school abuse, according to former high-ranking Maryland police officials who did not wish to be identified.

The newly emerging evidence is the first to suggest that there were significant links between the sex crimes at the Catholic Community Middle School in the Locust Point section of the city and the widely reported Archbishop Keough High School sexual abuse. That abuse was accompanied by the 1969 murder of former Keough teaching sister Catherine Ann Cesnik.

The murder of the nun (who was reportedly killed while trying to blow the whistle on rape and other sexual assaults at Keough) and the Keough chaplain’s suspected role in her death were both described in massive detail in a lengthy story recently published by Huffington Post.

The Huffington Post story quoted a retired Baltimore homicide detective who said that Father A. Joseph Maskell became a key figure during the early days of the murder investigation.  “It got to the point that Maskell was the number one guy we wanted to talk to,” said the detective, “but we never got a chance.”  The detective was never able to interview the priest, he said in the HP story, while also noting that “the Catholic Church had a lot of input into the police department, a lot of power.”

The Huffington Post story (http://huff.to/1Q1EKqd) did not mention the horrific child-rapes that had taken place at the Catholic middle school in Locust Point during roughly the same period as the Keough abuse.  But a two-year investigation by Inside Baltimore of the sexual abuse that occurred at both Keough and Catholic Community Middle School in South Baltimore – both of which were operated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame – has revealed significant connections between them.

Among the more troubling of the findings to emerge from recent interviews with retired Maryland police investigators is the fact that Maskell – the Keough abuser-priest suspected by some police investigators of involvement in the nun’s murder in 1969 – also performed a detailed “psychological evaluation” of one of the abused children at the Locust Point Catholic school where Merzbacher taught.

According to investigators, the authorities at Merzbacher’s school required the child to undergo the evaluation by Maskell, who reportedly had a master’s degree in school psychology from then-Towson State University and a “certificate of advanced study in counseling” from The Johns Hopkins University.

The school authorities reportedly called for the evaluation soon after the child told schoolmates about witnessing Merzbacher having sexual intercourse – in the middle of the school day – with the nun who was then serving as principal of the Catholic middle school.

“The school told the parents that their child would be dismissed from the school if [the child] didn’t submit to the psychological evaluation,” said one investigator.  “And the school authorities also insisted that they should be allowed to provide the psychologist for the evaluation.

“They chose Father Maskell to perform the evaluation.” His findings were then reportedly used to attack the credibility of the child who’d told schoolmates about the sexual activity between Merzbacher and the nun, according to investigators.

Even more disturbingly, said the former police officials, Maskell in 1975 was assigned to the Baltimore Archdiocese Division of Schools at Archdiocesan headquarters – where he reportedly helped to shape curriculum and management procedures for Catholic schools throughout the entire Baltimore area during the next five years.

Meanwhile, the notorious abuses at the Catholic Community Middle School continued.  Merzbacher taught there until 1979 and was not arrested and convicted for his crimes at the Locust Point school until the 1990s.

“If you look at the pattern of events during the early 1970s,” said one former police investigator, “it seems pretty clear that the Archdiocese had to know about the abuse that was occurring at both Keough and Catholic Community Middle School.”

The former investigator also noted that court-related documents from the Merzbacher trial show clearly that when a teacher at the Locust Point school reported the abuse to two Baltimore Archdiocesan priests in the mid-1970s, the Archdiocese soon fired the whistleblowing teacher.

An official transcript from the Merzbacher criminal proceedings describes in graphic detail what reportedly happened to the Locust Point child who was later psychologically evaluated by Maskell, as follows:  “[The Child’s] first encounter with Merzbacher was in the sixth grade when Merzbacher suddenly started punching [the child], throwing [the child] against the locker and beating [the child] up. Thereafter, Merzbacher would force [the child] to engage in oral sex with him after class.  

This type of abuse continued through the year and the next two years, and would frequently occur in front of other teachers.     Merzbacher would threaten [the child] . . . by showing [the child] where he had [earlier] shot his gun through the wall.  More than once, Merzbacher would point the gun at [the child], telling [the child] ‘if you ever tell anybody, I’ll kill you.   I’ll kill your father, I’ll kill your mother, I’ll kill your whole family’ . . .

“According to [the child], [the child] witnessed Merzbacher engaging in sexual intercourse with the principal [a School Sisters of Notre Dame nun].  After [the child] began telling other students about this incident, Merzbacher put his arms around [the child’s] neck and said, ‘I’ll kill you. And don’t you tell anybody. And you’re a crazy bastard.’” 

It was soon after the child “began telling other students” about the alleged sexual activity between Merzbacher and the nun that Father A. Joseph Maskell was summoned by the school to perform the “psychological evaluation” of the child, according to former investigators.

Some investigators say they are also troubled by the huge amounts of “settlement money” the Archdiocese has been paying to sexual abuse survivors since 2002 . . . with much of the cash reportedly going to survivors from both Keough High School and the Merzbacher school.

Only about two months ago, an official at the Maryland Catholic Conference (often described as the Church’s “political lobbying arm” in Maryland) told the Baltimore Sun that the Archdiocese of Baltimore had paid more than $8.7 million to compensate alleged abuse survivors and pay for their counseling, since 2002.

According to the Sun story (http://bsun.md/1G3a1lq ), a Catholic Conference official explained that the Baltimore diocese has a policy of offering voluntary settlements “regardless of the amount of time that has passed” after alleged sex abuse.  But the Catholic Conference official did not explain where the nearly $9 million to pay the Archdiocese of Baltimore abuse survivors had come from.

Some of the survivors who received the settlement money later told Inside Baltimore that they were asked to sign forms saying they would never seek additional compensation from the Archdiocese.  Others said they were also asked to sign “confidentiality agreements” in return for the money.

Second Witness Reportedly Told Police Officials She Was Shown Body of Murdered Baltimore Nun

Former Keough Student Detailed Incident in 1990s Statement:
“A Policeman Showed Me Sister Cathy’s Body”

Alleged Witness Also Said Cop
Warned Her to Keep Silent — Then Raped Her

By Tom Nugent

January 2015 – A second witness in the brutal 1969 murder of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik told Baltimore-area criminal investigators 20 years ago that she was shown the dead nun’s body by a policeman, according to two former Maryland law enforcement officials who did not wish to be identified.

The former law enforcement officials said the witness alleged that after showing her Sister Cathy’s body, the policeman warned her to keep silent and raped her “on the back of a police car.”

According to the former officials, the witness added that she was shown the corpse “at another location” than the Lansdowne, Maryland, remote wooded area where the nun’s badly decomposed body was discovered 45 years ago this month, on January third, 1970.

The former Maryland law enforcement officials also said the woman’s written statement “went up the chain of command, per standard operating procedure” at the Baltimore County Police Department – but that it was never acted upon by cold case investigators who were charged with working on the unsolved murder.

(Baltimore County Police conducted the murder investigation after the nun’s body was found lying in the dirt near a trash dumpster, in a remote area located in their jurisdiction a few miles south of the city of Baltimore.)

“Eventually the word came down that her information had not persuaded the [cold case detectives] to re-open [an active] investigation,” said one of the former law enforcement officials.

According to the former official, however, the county police did not pursue the information reported by the witness because they were engaged in a cover-up of the crime.

“In my opinion, they washed their hands of it,” said the official.  “They had no intention of working the case again, because the murder had been covered up by the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the [Baltimore-area] police from the very beginning.”

The startling disclosures by former Maryland law enforcement officials appear to support the recollections of another woman who last month told Inside Baltimore that she had been shown the body of the dead nun by an alleged abuser-priest who also served as chaplain to several Baltimore-area police departments during the period in which the nun’s murder took place.

That witness also said she was sexually abused by a policeman at the direction of the priest, the late Father A. Joseph Maskell, who was later defrocked by the Archdiocese of Baltimore after numerous accusations of sexual abuse of students during the 1960s and 1970s.

In addition, two other former Keough students have told Inside Baltimore they were sexually assaulted by Baltimore-area police at the direction of the priest, who served as chaplain at Archbishop Keough High School during the late 1960s.

One of those former students described how the Keough chaplain would take them on “ride alongs” with Baltimore-area police, during which they were sometimes sexually assaulted.

Baltimore attorney Teresa Lancaster – a former Keough student who was recently given $40,000 by the Archdiocese of Baltimore along with a letter of apology for “injuries” she allegedly suffered while being abused – two months ago told Inside Baltimore that the priest and his policeman friends terrified her as a teenager.

“I was afraid of the man [Father Maskell] because he had a gun,” said Lancaster.  “He took me on ‘police runs,’” she said, during which he and policemen would ride around in a police car harassing teenagers who were necking.

“On one occasion,” said Lancaster, “I was sexually assaulted by two policemen in uniforms, while Maskell looked on.”

According to a former Maryland law enforcement official familiar with the still unsolved, 45-year-old murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, the alleged police participation in the sex abuse has played a key role in the investigation from its very beginning.

“Over the years, the cover-up itself has become a major problem for the Baltimore-area police,” said the former official.  “The police commanders have known all along that if the information about the cover-up ever gets out, it could be devastating.  It would have a huge impact on their reputation, and might even raise legal questions about other criminal convictions in the past.”

Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik vanished on the evening of November 7th, 1969, after leaving her apartment in southwest Baltimore to conduct a banking transaction and buy dinner rolls.

When she failed to return, her frightened roommate at the Carriage House Apartments – the late Sister Helen Russell Phillips – phoned two Jesuits in Annapolis . . . one of whom was romantically involved with Sister Cathy.  (To learn more about what happened at the Cesnik apartment complex that night, read the 2005 Baltimore Sun City Paper story about the case by scrolling to the top of the Inside Baltimore website  and clicking on “Who Killed Sister Cathy?”)

The two Jesuits hurried to the apartment and later that night discovered the vanished nun’s car at the edge of the Carriage House parking lot.

In recent years, Baltimore County Police cold case detectives have said they believe Sister Cathy was “carjacked by someone who lived in the neighborhood.”  They said they continue to believe that the assailant killed her and then dumped her body in the remote Lansdowne wooded area, located about half a mile from the church rectory where the abuser-priest lived for two years in the late 1960s.

Asked why the assailant would then return the nun’s car to the edge of the Carriage House apartment lot, a Baltimore County homicide investigator told this reporter in 2004: “He needed a ride back to his neighborhood, so that he could get back home.”

But a former Baltimore law enforcement official who’s familiar with the case has a different theory.

“The way that car [the nun’s green Ford Maverick] was parked [at an odd angle, and with one end sticking out into a nearby street] is the way a car ends up when it has been pulled over hurriedly by an alarmed driver – during a police stop.”