Donna Von Den Bosch was 14 years old when she entered Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore. It was the fall of 1970, and she was excited to start her studies at the all-girls school. But soon, the sexual abuse that she would endure at the hands of trusted clergy members would change her life forever, and years would pass before she could speak openly about it.
Von Den Bosch Suffered Abuse By Trusted Clergy Members
Von Den Bosch, who has shared her story with several media outlets and was featured in the 2017 Netflix documentary “The Keepers,” recalls that the abuse began at a Catholic youth picnic in September shortly after she’d started high school. She told the local newspaper Inside Baltimore that during the event, she was given a drink that was laced with a potent drug that made her weak and dizzy. She remembers feeling unwell when someone called her over to a police car. As she walked over to the car, she saw a priest sitting in its passenger seat.
When the priest spotted her and saw the condition she was in, she says he raped her as another priest and high school chaplain, Father [Anthony] Joseph Maskell, watched. Then, she says, Maskell also raped her. She had known Maskell since she was 12 years old.
“Here’s this parish priest that I’ve known since I was 12 and it’s all so confusing. And this would go on for the next three years,” she told local news station WJZ-TV/CBS Baltimore in 2016.
Abuse Occurred During Most of Von Den Bosch’s High School Years
Von Den Bosch, who went on to become a nurse and now has two adult children, says Maskell drugged and raped her over several years in his office on school grounds in the 1970s. He also threatened her with gun violence, she says, and kept guns in a desk drawer. She also recalls seeing a police officer pay Maskell money before the officer sexually assaulted her.
“What could I do? I was terrified all the time,” she told Inside Baltimore. “Going to school each day was agony. I used to try to hide from him under stairwells and anywhere else I could hide. I didn’t dare say anything about the rapes. I thought he would kill my parents! By that point, I didn’t care if I lived anymore.”
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Years Passed Before Some Survivors Receive a Settlement and an Apology
Many years have passed since the abuse occurred, and Archbishop Keough High School is now closed. However, the scars remain, and many have vowed they will no longer remain silent. Von Den Bosch, who now lives in Pennsylvania, is far from alone. She is among others who have come forward with sexual assault allegations against the clergy members who worked at the school.
She and other sexual assault and abuse survivors settled with the Archdiocese of Baltimore. In 2016, she received $40,000 for the abuse she suffered, along with a letter of apology from an Archdiocese official. At the time, she saw the gesture as a long overdue acknowledgment of the abuse that occurred.
“For the first time that I’m aware of, the Archdiocese is validating our nightmarish experience by confirming on the record that it actually took place,” she told the local newspaper Inside Baltimore.
The Battle – and the Story – Is Not Over
Even though the settlement came with the condition that she could not bring any more compensation cases against the Archdiocese, Von Den Bosch continues to press on, seeking justice and transparency for herself and other survivors.
A new chapter has unfolded, and she wants to see that survivors’ stories receive the public recognition they deserve. In December 2022, Von Den Bosch, along with other sexual abuse survivors, filed a motion to support the state attorney general’s office request to publicly release “Clergy Abuse in Maryland,” a 456-page report containing the results of a four-year state investigation into the sexual abuse allegations against the Catholic Church.
They filed a request with the Baltimore Circuit Court to make the full report public. Currently, it remains sealed as debate continues over whether the historical account should be released with all the names disclosed or if certain information and details should be amended or redacted.
Report Says Hundreds of People Suffered Physical and Sexual Abuse
According to the Motion to Disclose document (In Re Special Investigation No. CID 18-2673), nearly 160 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore have been accused of sexually and physically abusing 600-plus people during an 80-year period. It is believed the number could be higher because many sexual assault incidents are not reported.
The report discloses that boys and girls from preschool age through young adulthood suffered abuse and that the Archdiocese of Baltimore “failed to report many allegations of sexual abuse, conduct adequate investigations of alleged abuse, remove the abusers from the ministry, or restrict their access to children. Instead, it went to great lengths to keep the abuse secret.”
“Only when this is out and in the open can healing really begin,” Robert Jenner of Jenner Law said at a news conference announcing the decision to file the motion in support of the attorney general’s office request, reports The Baltimore Banner.
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‘How Much Longer do We Have to Live Before the Horrors… Are Brought to Public Light?’
Jenner Law of Baltimore and Grant & Eisenhofer of Delaware are co-representing Donna Von Den Bosch and Michele Stanton, another sexual abuse survivor. They are also representing advocates Gemma Hoskins and the organization Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
In a joint statement about their fight to have the report released, Von Den Bosch and Stanton said, “How much longer do we have to live before the horrors that we and others endured – in our Archdiocese schools and parishes where we were supposed to be safe – are brought to public light?
We endured reliving those horrific events in interviews to help advance the Attorney General investigation. We did with the expectation that the Report would be public, to encourage other survivors to speak up, and to make perpetrator accountability possible.”
Jenner also shares in a news release that making the report available to the public is necessary for the truth to prevail.
“Disclosing the Report will communicate to those silent survivors, the hundreds of innocents preyed upon – overpowered by those they trusted – you will be heard, you will be believed,” he says. “We share the belief that the whole truth must be discovered and disclosed.”
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Jenner Law Protects Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors
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