Religion

/

Health

Years into attorney general investigation of Maryland's Catholic Church, abuse survivors wonder where it stands

Alison Knezevich, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Religious News

It is encouraging to many survivors that authorities are conducting the reviews, said Mike McDonnell, spokesman for SNAP.

“We see more evidence produced because of them. We see more individuals named as predators,” McDonnell said. “And most importantly, we are seeing more healing happen for survivors because their stories are being vetted.”

The investigations nationwide have exposed the extent of abuse in the church and helped bolster advocates’ push to change state laws to extend the court deadlines for victims to sue their abusers and pursue criminal charges against them. This year alone, 14 states have enacted legislation to reform statute of limitation laws, according to CHILD USA.

Maryland has no criminal statute of limitations for felonies, including sexual crimes against children, but limits when someone can sue. Kurt Rupprecht, who has testified in favor of reforming Maryland’s abuse laws, said he hoped the attorney general’s investigation would lead to broader changes for survivors, such as lifting the civil statute of limitations.

Rupprecht said he was sexually abused at age 9 in 1979 by a priest in Salisbury and violently attacked when he resisted. He repressed the memories for decades, but struggled with “manic rage,” suicidal thoughts and self-harm, he said, affecting his family and career.

In 2017, he reported the abuse allegations to the sheriff’s office in Wicomico County. The next year, when the attorney general’s investigation became public, he contacted Frosh’s office and detailed his experience in an interview with Wolf.

 

“As this has gone well into 2021, I’m concerned that maybe this isn’t going to happen,” Rupprecht said. Still, “I’m hoping for a report — a full report. I hope all the facts come out.”

In being interviewed for a law enforcement investigation, “you are sharing things that are always difficult to share,” said Jean Wehner, who was featured in the 2017 Netflix documentary series “The Keepers.” It examined abuse at Archbishop Keough High School and the unsolved death of Sister Cathy Cesnik.

Wehner said she wanted to participate in the attorney general’s investigation to help other survivors and corroborate their stories, but now feels like she’s been left hanging.

Teresa Lancaster, whose story was also featured in “The Keepers,” said survivors “deserve to know” where the investigation stands.

“How long do we have to wait?” she said.

©2021 The Baltimore Sun. Visit at baltimoresun.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.