Survivors of abuse call for release of investigation into Catholic Church
Four years ago, Teresa Lancaster visited the Maryland Attorney General’s Office in Baltimore to be interviewed for an investigation into the Catholic Church. She detailed sexual abuse she suffered decades ago at Archbishop Keough High School, she said.
On Tuesday, Lancaster stood outside the same office building on a busy intersection downtown, part of a group of survivors who gathered there to call on outgoing Attorney General Brian Frosh to release the results of that investigation.
“It’s hard to sit and wait,” she said. “It’s hard not to see any action … I would like to hear something, please.”
With Frosh leaving office by early January, the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests [SNAP] organized the news conference. Frosh’s investigation became public in 2018, but no report has been issued.
“Why has Maryland taken so long?” asked Maryland SNAP director David Lorenz, pointing to neighboring Pennsylvania, where a two-year investigation led to an explosive grand jury report in 2018.
Lorenz questioned whether enough resources were devoted to the investigation. He said members of his group want Frosh to at least issue preliminary findings before his term ends.
Frosh did not seek a third term, so a new a new attorney general will be picked in November. And, Elizabeth Embry, a special assistant to Frosh who has overseen the investigation, recently won a primary election to represent a district in the House of Delegates.
Frosh spokeswoman Raquel Coombs told The Baltimore Sun this week that the investigation is ongoing, and that the office expects “to have some news in the next few months.”
In response to a question about whether enough resources were devoted to the probe, Coombs said Tuesday that Frosh “has made this a priority.”
“Significant resources are being dedicated to the investigation,” she said.
The investigation became public in September 2018, when Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori told clergy the archdiocese was under investigation by the state.
Survivor Jean Wehner said she is concerned about how the lack of conclusion “feels to some of the survivors.”
“After four years of silence and without any kind of true constructive updates, survivors may find themselves in an old familiar place where the silence turns to fear,” she said. “The fear is that we told the secret and that the disclosure will bring harm to us and our loved ones, or that we are not believed, or that we’ve been duped.”
Both Lancaster and Wehner were part of the 2017 Netflix series “The Keepers,” which documented allegations of sexual abuse by the late priest A. Joseph Maskell at Archbishop Keough in the 1960s and 1970s, and the unsolved 1969 killing of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, a nun who taught there.
One man who attended Tuesday’s event said that when he was interviewed as part of the investigation, it was the first time he told anyone he was abused.
“I hadn’t told a soul,” Buddy Robson said after the group’s news conference.
Robson said he was abused more than five decades ago at age 11 by a priest who pleaded guilty to sodomizing a minor in a case connected to other victims.
When abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick surfaced in recent years, it “brought the nightmares back,” Robson said.
Robson said he later reached out to the lead investigator in the Maryland investigation and was interviewed for three hours. Survivors, Robson said, “deserve answers.” “They deserve truth, they deserve justice,” he said. “And the attorney general can go a long way in helping that cause.”
One person has been charged in connection with the attorney general’s investigation. In March, Neil Adleberg, 74, of Reisterstown, was indicted on charges of sexual abuse of a minor, sexual solicitation of a minor and two counts of second-degree rape and attempted second-degree rape. The alleged offenses took place in 2013 and 2014.
Adleberg is a former wrestling coach at Mount Saint Joseph High School, but the person who reported the allegations was not a student there, authorities have said.
Adleberg’s attorney, Joe Murtha, said Tuesday that Adleberg denies the allegations and that he has “has incredible support from the Mount Saint Joseph community of alumni.” Murtha said the case is scheduled to go trial in Baltimore County in 2023.