The U.S. Sun [New York NY]
May 14, 2023
By Rachel Dobkin
A sex abuse survivor has spoken out against Baltimore’s Catholic church, saying that a fellow victim reached out to a nun for help who then turned up dead.
Teresa Lancaster, 69, is now an advocate for victims like her, after being forced into the Archdiocese of Baltimore‘s “sex ring” while attending Archbishop Keough High School in Maryland during the late 1960s to early 1970s.
“I went to the counselor at Archbishop Keogh to get some advice about some problems at home,” Lancaster exclusively told The U.S. Sun.
Her counselor, Father Joseph Maskell, was a Catholic priest who allegedly sexually abused multiple girls at the high school during this time – but denied any accusations until his death in 2001 and was never criminally charged.
“When I went in there, he closed the door and took all my clothes off, and sat me in his lap within five or 10 minutes,” Lancaster said.
Another girl at the school, Jean Hardadon Wehner, who said she was also being abused by Maskell, confided in Sister Catherine “Cathy” Cesnik, a 26-year-old nun and English teacher at the school.
“Jean went to Sister Cathy and told her about what was going on and sister Cathy told her not to worry, that she would take care of it,” Lancaster recalled.
“And then next thing we know she was murdered.”
Sister Cathy went missing in November 1969 and was found dead two months later in January 1970.
This, however, was no accident. An autopsy revealed that she was killed by blunt force trauma to the back of her head.
Either a hammer or a brick created a hole in her skull that was the size of a quarter and there were strangulation marks on her neck, according to the autopsy.
Although Maskell was never charged with Sister Cathy’s death, Lancaster believes he played a role.
“Personally I know that Maskell was a serial rapist,” she said.
“I know he was a very dangerous man who trafficked girls to other people and I believe that if he didn’t do it himself, he was part of who had it done.”
She added that Maskell “did it to quiet” Sister Cathy.
Lancaster also shared her story in Netflix‘s The Keepers which “explores not only the murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, but the immense sex abuse ring that Father Maskell ran through Keogh High,” she said.
In early April, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brownb released a report detailing 156 alleged sex abusers within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who molested over 600 children from the 1940s through 2002.
While not all the names of the abusers have been publicly released, Lancaster said that the report stated that “Maskell was a known abuser back in 1966.”
“He had abused boys at Our Lady of Victory and St. Clemens,” Lancaster said.
She said: “When the church found that out, they transferred him to Keogh, an all-girls high school.
“Maybe they figured he wouldn’t bother the girls, but he was a pedophile and he didn’t care who it was.”
Lancaster added: “So this is a priest that all through his priesthood abused males and females and the church turned a blind eye to it.”
Many of the abusers in the report were able to dodge any repercussions for their alleged heinous crimes.
“I don’t ever say that it’s just the Catholic church where the sex abuse occurs, but the Catholic church had it down to a science for hundreds of years,” Lancaster said, referring to the act of looking the other way when abuse was exposed.
She said: “They were told not to ever admit that any of the priests were abusing. Their method was to cover it up and, and enable them.
“It was common for them to move abusive priests from parish to parish and hide it and that was just embedded in the doctrine.”