Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Agonizing over "The Keepers"

This is a tv documentary seven part series about a horror that occurred at a high school in Baltimore in the late sixties and early seventies.

I didn't teach there then. Then, it was Archbishop Keough High School.  In 1988, it merged with Seton High, and was renamed  The Seton Keough High School.  I taught there from 1988-1996.

I didn't know about this terrible atrocity until 1994, when the victims filed a lawsuit against the offending priest, the school, and the archdiocese.  Even then, I didn't know the details or extent of it.

I didn't know that until now, when I began to watch "The Keepers"  I've only seen the first two episodes, but they are enough to give me nightmares.

The Sister in the photo is Sister Cathy Cesnik, a School Sister of Notre Dame, who taught there in those days and who was murdered, ostensibly to shut her up.

The priest, Maskell, was truly a man who hated women and who degraded and abused the young women who came to him for counselling.  A true predator, he focused on the girls who had already been victims of abuse before they came into his clutches.   He's dead now, so he has faced the judgment of God.

Here is how the school looked in the late 60's:

In the meantime, this series has had a terrible impact on many women who went to the school, even decades after the whole thing.   Here are some of their posts from Facebook:

Comments on the Facebook page:

*I just watched episode 5. Woah. That was a big can of worms opened. I think there was money involved and a major "cover up" happened

*For the last two nights after watching This documentary I woke up sick to my stomach and wondering how could something like this be ignored for so long? How could good people (and I DO believe the Catholic Church is FULL of good people) let this happen? How could no one stand up? But mostly, Sharon May, the woman that just made it SO much harder for abuse survivors to come forth, either from past abuse or current abuse, who had more than enough to open a case, 30-100 women come forward of grueling incidents that they were frightened to even think about, and she just dismissed it? Like it was nothing, like it was legitimately laughing and rolling her eyes about the accusations. This woman is what's wrong with this world and I truly believe could've helped solve this case. Sad excuse for a woman

*Just finished binge watching The Keepers on Netflix. I'm guessing the archdiocese will bulldoze Seton Keough to the ground any day now.

*Just watched this series and I can't express my sadness for the victims of the monster Mascall. These individuals' suffering is exactly why statutes of limitations for these crimes should be extended substantially. Let there be no rest for the wicked perpetrators who prey on the fear of those they abuse.


*Archdiocese spokesman Sean Caine said the church of 2017 is "a very different place" from when Joseph Maskell was a priest. "We work very hard every single day to make sure that the church is a safe place...and we will do everything we can in our power to ensure something like that never again happens."

*in the second episode, when jean described confessing and feeling guilty about being abused by her uncle and then the things that father maskell, magnus and others did to her and the other poor girls disgusted me and broke my heart. i'm not religious so i don't fully understand. did they twist religious teachings to fit and justify their evil doings? it seems the girls were so brainwashed by the religion and the godlike status that the priests held that they did whatever they... said to be "forgiven by god".

and then when the the allegations made by charlie about maskells abuse was completely denied.. that also struck me to the core.
so many unanswered questions and missing documents. how can this be?? does a church really have this much power? sharon may also seemed shady and i felt she portrayed an indifferent attitude.. as if she didn't care if justice was served or not.. as the head of the sex crime division. sicken
*I attended Keough and was there when it merged with Seton. Also a former student of St. Clement's. I have to say this documentary shed an eerie light on the history of two schools I attended. Oddly St. Clement' closed and Seton Keough will be closing at end of this school year. I will be glad as perhaps this is full circle for a school that had a horrible history. The women who endured the abuse were incredibly brave. Shame on the church for not protecting them. Sad to know this happened at places that shaped my childhood. What it shaped in others is terrible and unfair. May the women and Sister Cathy find peace in knowing their story mattered and people do care.



Vikki Boateng Kristen Lynn in a way the closing ( of Seton Keough) to me is so overdue after all that happened there. I can't tell you how terrible it is to know everything that took place in that building. Sadly I had a good experience there as the teachers were great all I had. Can't say enough what those girls went through should have stopped and been taken care of from beginning. Burning down wouldn't be enough.

Kristen Lynn Ironic that it's happening now though. That's karma!

Vikki Boateng I know. I wouldn't be at all surprised if decision to close was due to documentary coming out. Easy to brush it all under carpet and let people forget.

Karen McKenny Olson I graduated in 1992. Never knew a thing about what happened there until recently.

Vikki Boateng Same here. Although some of us were talking about how there was a bad vibe down hallway by Library. Never knew why. This explained it all.

Sandra Winkles I attended Seton before it merged with Keough. We didn't have a priest on staff, but if we had I can certainly see that abuse such as what took place at Keough could have occurred at Seton. T The atmosphere at Seton was repressive, cold, stifling, ignorant and unenlightened to say the least. Priests and nuns were held up as Godlike and infallible, never to be questioned for any reason. I am appalled at the extent and depth of the cover up of this entire situation by the Baltimore archdiocese - they are responsible for all that happened since they knew of Maskell's behavior in 1967 and elected to move him to another school rather than see that he was removed from the priesthood and charged with crimes. This is yet another example of what happens when men and a church hierarchy think they are infallible and can do no wrong. If priests were allowed to be married, normal men, I don't think the priesthood would have become such a haven for all these monsters. I now attend a church which is Anglican/catholic and a parish of the personal ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (a former Episcopalian church which joined the Catholic Church but the former Episcopalian priests are married and the church retained much of the traditional mass and music. Our priests are so different - normal, none of that infallible superior attitude that has prevailed in the Catholic Church for years. This documentary makes me sad, angry, disgusted, etc. I pray that light is finally shed on this appalling tragedy and that the truth is finally discovered for the sake of all concerned. Glad this school is closing - it should have been closed and burned down years ago - what went on there for so many years was horrific and nothing can make up for the torture experienced by these poor girls!

Lynn Kuennen Absolute power leads to evil with no consequences. The government should have stepped in and charged those breaking the law.


Jenny Divver I'm up to #3. Do you guys remember what his office was used as when we were there? I don't remember ever going anywhere between the library and convent. I don't remember what it was and am curious.

Stephanie Lippman They show it in a sketch on the show. It was on the first floor, the room next to that green carpeted chapel that av club used to film in. If memory serves, I don't remember that door ever being unlocked.

Kelly Davis Morton I just finished tonight. So incredibly heartbreaking I know Jane Doe and her family very well. They are some of the nicest people you'd ever meet. I hate that horrible things happen to good people😢

Stephanie Lippman I drove by SK the other day while I was heading out on tour because I figured it'd probably be the last time I'd see it. Sad to see it go out like this but it should definitely be killed with fire, so to speak. Too much hypocrisy, injustice, scandal and shame.

Holly Basta He was protected by them and others in power. I was told as a student what those rooms were. We filmed our morning reports in the office next to the library. Always felt extremely uncomfortable there and in the chapel. Sr. Joyce told me what her office used to be was also where much of the abuse took place because it is kind of secluded. She was well aware and probably knew much more

Holly Basta I do believe the sale of the property may be part of the settlements. It's worth a great deal of money, the archdiocese probably needs to pay the victims. It is quite coincidental that the three places tied to the abuse are all being closed -- NOT.


Jenny Divver I visited a few weeks ago, so my old memories are getting mixed up. They moved the chapel to his office, I believe, or right next to it. The office at the end near the door is now the heritage room with old uniforms, etc.

Rachael Swann Thomas Many catholic grade schools in my area have closed. Not many have been bulldozed yet. I think SK was slated to go regardless of the Keepers.

Yearbook photo of the Keough administration in the late 60's:

I keep wondering about the faculty members of that time: didn't they suspect something ?

Some of them were still teaching at the school after the merger, when I was there. I never heard a thing about it from any of them.

Seton Keough when I taught there, was a good school where most of us, teachers and students, didn't know about that dark shadow from the past.


Not only the damage to the abused women, but the
 rage at the larger Catholic Church that this whole thing has generated just breaks my heart.

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