Woman Names Ex-Nun in Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
By Wylie Gerdes
Detroit Free Press
June 22, 1995
[The survivor's name has been redacted from this article.]
In a rare allegation of sexual abuse leveled against a nun, a former Dominican High School student claims in a Wayne County Circuit Court lawsuit filed Wednesday that a woman who was a sister at the Detroit school sexually molested her repeatedly in the late 1960s.
The former nun, Gael Biondo, denied the allegations. And Biondo's attorney said a lawyer representing the former student, [Redacted] of Massachusetts, had demanded a $450,000 settlement in March. In her lawsuit, [Redacted], 44, seeks damages of more than $10,000 from Biondo, the Archdiocese of Detroit, the school and the Adrian Dominican Sisters order, which operates the school.
The lawsuit was filed on Biondo's 21st wedding anniversary. The 68-year-old Clinton Township woman left the order in 1970.
Dominican Sisters spokeswoman Sister Lorraine Wesolowski said the order was saddened by [Redacted]'s allegations. Ned McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the Adrian Dominican Sisters would investigate.
"What happened to me was an abuse of power," [Redacted] said in a telephone interview from her lawyer's office in Cambridge, Mass.
In her lawsuit, [Redacted] says Biondo, then known as Sister Mary Gael, was her English teacher, creative writing mentor and spiritual adviser at Dominican.
The sexual relationship began in the fall of 1964 and continued even after both left the high school, according to the lawsuit.
[Redacted], who teaches writing at [redacted], is married and has [redacted] children.
Biondo on Wednesday said she first learned of the allegations March 18. She said she last spoke with [Redacted] in 1983, when Biondo telephoned her to offer condolences on the death of her father.
"I don't know why this happened, unless she has become disillusioned with her life," Biondo said of the lawsuit. "I'm amazed, shocked. I don't know what to think."
Sexual abuse allegations against nuns are rare but increasing, said Tom Economus, president of The Linkup, a Chicago support group for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
"It's bad that all of America has to learn about priests," Economus said. "It's even more difficult for people to accept nuns."