The Keepers is a documentary on Netflix and it will rock you to the core! I am about to get a little heavy here, something I never do but I feel I need to get this out there. The victims need a voice, many voices and I chose to be one of them.
Where to begin–honestly I would say that if you are or have been a victim of sexual abuse this is not the series for you. It is heavy, and it is riddled with the most disgusting events that took place right under the nose of the Baltimore Archdiocese.
What began as an inquiry by two women into the murder of their beloved Sister Cathy, unraveled a scandal like none before. As I watched I was less concerned about who murdered this sweet Nun and more drawn to the dirty secret in Baltimore’s Catholic Archdiocese.
Picture it, Baltimore 1967.. while segregation was rampant and the police force was corrupt, working class families still had their faith to hold onto. The Catholic Church was a natural fit in Baltimore like bread and butter. You went to Mass, you had your First Communion..it was a BIG DEAL. My dad grew up this way, catholic school, Sunday Mass.. the whole deal. My great Aunt prayed the Rosary multiple times a day, and was a devout Catholic. I cannot imagine what she would think of this were she still alive. It made me literally want to vomit, thinking that my family may have come in contact with the monster that was Father Maskell (I won’t call him Father anymore, he was anything but that).
So what happened?
In 1969, Catherine Cesnik , a vibrant 26-year-old nun who taught at a local school in Baltimore was murdered. That November, she mysteriously vanished. She was last seen exiting her Baltimore home for a shopping run, and her beaten body was discovered two months later on a snow-covered embankment in the city.
The police “reportedly” conducted an exhaustive investigation. Their working theory was that Sister Catherine had been the victim of a robbery that turned violent. Over the course of the investigation, the police were unable to identify a single suspect. The case went cold and has remained that way for decades. According to many reports, the Baltimore PD was a corrupt organization during those days, and surely the last thing on their minds was finding out “who” did this to her. Corruption went as far as the Mayors office, really nobody was safe, it was truly every man for themselves.
Mind you it has been documented that members of the Baltimore PD were also raping these girls, so I am pretty sure they don’t want their dirty little secrets out. Children trusted police, and they were hurting them as well. What were these girls supposed to do? Who could they turn to? The only person they trusted was Sister Cathy…she was safe.
What we know: Sister Cathy knew of the abuse at the school, because students told her. She was certainly going to blow the whistle on Maskell, and he made sure that wasn’t going to happen. Now who actually killed her is still in question. There are many people involved in this murder web, and hopefully cigarettes found at the scene of her body will link one of the suspects to it. I believe now that the task force assigned to this case will actually do their best to find answers for Sister Cathy’s family.
I hate to even type his name. This man was a sadist, a child abuser, a sexual predator. The Baltimore Archdiocese knew it in 1967 (maybe before that) but never did anything. They simply moved him around to different parishes where he would prey on children and take their innocence. Who knows how many victims are out there–I am sure the number is sickening. Many have died from suicide and drug abuse as a result, and that is JUST the victims from Keough that we know about.
When a kid named Charlie, told his mom what was happening she went to the Archdiocese and told them, all they did was move Maskell to Keough, all girls Catholic high school. It was like sending a hungry lion into a den full of fresh meat. These girls never stood a chance against him. He preyed on the weak girls, the girls he knew had been abused in the past–the girls who thought this “holy” man would forgive and cleanse them of this horrible secret. Instead he kept abusing, in a way that is just stomach turning.
He was never removed from the church or made to pay for what he did, instead he served in the church until his death.
My heart breaks for this woman. Her name is Jean Hargadon Wehner, and she is a super woman. The fact that she is a functioning adult is amazing, let alone a wife and mother.
She is the woman who brought Cathy’s murder back into the headlines in 1994 when she filed a $40 million lawsuit alleging abuse at the hand of Father Maskell—and that he had shown her Sister Cathy’s body in the woods when she was a child as a warning against speaking out. Yes, that is how sick that man was.
Jean is our eye into the level of cover-up and conspiracy that was going on in the Catholic Church to keep not just the sexual abuse quiet, but also perhaps even Cathy’s murder. Once she came forward a Jane Roe came forward as well and they both took on the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Sadly they lost..because well there is no justice when a cover up is involved. This would have SHOOK the Baltimore Catholic community and it was just before the Pope came to Baltimore.
Sadly she is still tortured so deeply by this, and while she is raw and honest you see her innocence was lost and she is very rigid. The catholic church gave her a settlement, how nice of them because I am certain her lifetime of counseling isn’t cheap. She is so angry at the Baltimore Archdiocese and rightfully so. I am angry for her.
Will There Be Justice?
While this docudrama has brought the story to the forefront I don’t think justice will ever be served in this case, sadly. Maskell is dead, his victims will never see him answer for what he did to them. The Baltimore Archdiocese will just keep handing out money to keep them quiet, it’s been a pattern since the 90’s and well who knows how long before that.
A young Altar Boy named Charlie came forward to his mom about Maskell in 1967–the church moved the priest and life went to back to what it (sort of) was before he was molested at the hands of a predator. When the 1994 law suit came about he was called into the archdiocese of Baltimore with ALL of the big names in the Catholic Church. They didn’t want him to corroborate with Jane Doe, they wanted to buy his silence. A bishop offered to buy him a boat–a boat are you joking!
That Bishop is now the head Bishop of Delaware. Umm seriously!I am certain God is not smiling down on this. If you live in Delaware let your Archdiocese know this is unacceptable.
To The Baltimore Archdiocese…
It’s time for you to come forward, it’s time for you to right this wrong. Stop covering for abusers within the church. Not all are bad in the Catholic church, but it’s not at all Christ-like in any way for you to keep ignoring what happened. These victims are not imagining this, they were wronged in a way no child should ever be. And you keep abusing them by not admitting it happened. You know full well there is a file on Maskell..it doesn’t need to be public, but you know you need to admit your wrong.
Also, I applaud you for backing down and leaving the bill alone in the Maryland Senate. Sadly, you only left it alone when the bill was amended to make it more difficult for a plaintiff over 25 to win damages. Who cares how old they are? Do you know what’s it like to be abused? Do you know the courage it takes to come forward? Yeah probably not because, The Archdiocese of Baltimore has paid millions of dollars in claims lodged by dozens of people. The diocese’s policy is to offer voluntary settlements regardless of the amount of time that passed since the abuse took place.
If you haven’t seen this series, brace yourself. There will NOT be a season two, so I will keep you posted as it unravels in Baltimore–because this story is far from over.