Christine Kenneally, in her report titled ‘We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage’, describes the brutalities that the children at the orphanage faced at the hands of the nuns
In an investigative piece, Buzzfeed News has reported on child sexual abuse by nuns at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, Vermont. Christine Kenneally, senior contributor at Buzzfeed News reported on the unrelenting physical and psychological abuse on the captive children at the orphanage that happened decades ago.
St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage opened in the mid-1800s and closed in 1974. Kenneally, in her report titled ‘We Saw Nuns Kill Children: The Ghosts of St. Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage’, describes the brutalities that the children at the orphanage faced at the hands of the nuns.
Sally Dale is one of the main characters in Kenneally’s reporting, who revealed the dark history of the orphanage she grew in – one where ‘children entered orphanages but did not leave them alive’. Among many instances, one that Dale remembers vividly is a boy being pushed out of the window, sometime around 1944.
Kenneally writes, “The Diocese of Burlington, Vermont Catholic Charities, and the Sisters of Providence, the order of nuns who worked at St. Joseph’s, all chose not to speak with me about these allegations”.
She says that in Canada, UK, Germany, Ireland and Australia, upon investigation and witness testimony, several cases of child abuse in Catholic orphanages surfaced. However, no such reckoning has taken place in the United States.
Kenneally found tens of thousands of pages of documents, and after dozens of interviews, she found the well-kept secrets of the St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, Vermont.
At the end of her reporting, Monsignor John McDermott, of the Burlington Diocese, provided a brief statement: “Please know that the Diocese of Burlington treats allegations of child abuse seriously and procedures are in place for reporting to the proper authorities. While it cannot alter the past, the Diocese is doing everything it can to ensure children are protected”.
What followed in Kenneally’s report is a vast account of gut-wrenching testimonies from victims who recalled the atrocities they faced as children.
Here are a few of the most shocking findings of Kenneally’s report:
1. Children were thrown out of the windows, down the stairs by nuns.
2. A nun forcefully fondled a boy and then cut him with something very sharp.
3. A nun told a group of older boys to rape a boy.
4. A woman said she’d watched a nun hold a baby by its ankles and swing its head against a table until it stopped crying
5. If a child was caught not paying attention, the nuns would take a needle and regularly prick his fingertips.
6. Victims spoke about lit matches being held against their skin.
7. A nun would hold a child’s head underwater, nuns who covered babies’ mouths until they turned blue.
8. The nuns threw children in the water and said it taught you how to swim.
9. A girl was made to kiss a dead boy in a coffin.
10. Multiple witnesses said a nun stood on a boy’s leg until it broke.
These were only a few among a long list of heinous crimes that were committed by the nuns of the orphanage.
Kenneally writes, “It took years — decades — for these survivors of St. Joseph’s to undo that indoctrination, to learn to trust their own perceptions, to reclaim their own experiences”.
To read the entire report, click here.
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