A recent grand jury investigation revealed widespread clergy abuse in Pennsylvania that had been covered up for decades. Now, more reports of sexual abuse have surfaced, however, this time, priests and bishops are not the ones being accused. Rather, women are coming forward with allegations of abuse by nuns in the Catholic church.
One woman reported being sexually abused by a nun in a New Jersey convent when she was 15 years old. At the time, she spent evenings, weekends, and summers with the nun whom she now realizes was grooming her for an illicit sexual relationship.
She says she confided in the nun about previous abuse she suffered at the hands of her uncle, a priest, at the age of five. The nun allegedly used her position of trust and authority to manipulate the girl by supplying her with drugs and alcohol before teaching her how to have sexual relations with women.
Another former nun recounts an instance of inappropriate kissing by her superior that has haunted her for decades. Through her work with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), she learned of other alleged instances of sexual abuse and cover-ups. Since the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released, at least 18 people have come forward to share their experiences of abuse by nuns.
Alleged Abuser Remains a Nun Despite Settlement
The woman who claims to have been abused as a teenager reported the abuse to the Sisters of Charity in 1994 and received a $70,000 settlement, which was not enough, she says, to compensate for the consequences of the trauma, including her post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol and drug addictions.
According to the woman, other nuns must have known about what was happening to her and did nothing to stop it. She also says she felt like the canon lawyers paid for her silence, but she intends to speak out in hopes of preventing similar instances from occurring to others.
Although the alleged abuser was removed from her position as a grade school principal and is being restricted from outside ministry, she remains a nun and is being provided with food and housing. The Sisters of Charity says it believes that the case was handled responsibly, but that it is willing to meet with the woman to address her remaining concerns.
Nun Abuse is Surprisingly Prevalent
The former nun who was abused by her superior says that most people have not heard of nun abuse because of nuns’ inherent culture of privacy. Nun abuse remains largely undiscussed, even though according to a 1996 survey, approximately 40 percent of Catholic nuns in the U.S. claimed to be victims of sexual abuse, often at the hands of their religious superiors. Survivors hope that public accountability will bring the issue to the forefront, helping to ensure that similar tragedies do not befall other innocent victims.
New Brunswick Clergy Abuse Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Fight for Those Who Suffered Abuse by Nuns
If you were abused by a nun or another clergy member, contact a New Brunswick clergy abuse lawyer at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr today. We fight to obtain the justice you deserve. For a free consultation, please fill out our online contact form or call us at 732-249-4600. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout the state, including those in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, and Colonia.