Sexual abuse survivors testify in Baltimore Archdiocese bankruptcy case

WBALTV 11 [Baltimore, MD]

April 8, 2024

By Kate Amara

A special conference took place Monday in federal bankruptcy court, designed to give adult survivors of childhood clergy sexual abuse a chance to testify. It comes amid the Chapter 11 proceedings for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which declared bankruptcy in September in anticipation of a flood of sexual abuse lawsuits when Maryland’s Child Victims Act became law.

The judge was clear from the outset: only survivors would give statements, the conference was not on the record and not evidentiary in nature. She said, from the court’s perspective, Monday was a listening session and an opportunity to be heard in order to increase engagement and understanding of the case.

“I want to tell survivors out there: ‘Come forward. We’ll stand with you. There’s strength in numbers, and don’t hide in the closet anymore,'” survivor Teresa Lancaster said.

Lancaster was one of six adult survivors of child clergy sexual abuse who testified Monday. The others, men and women, range in age from about 50-70 years old.

The survivors recounted being targeted by priests, repeatedly abused and raped, some violently, and then scared and shamed into silence.

“Hiding doesn’t help you or anybody else. We got the story out, and the public knows what happened behind those closed doors,” Lancaster said.

Archbishop William Lori attended the hearing, listening and nodding his head throughout.

“I came as a priest and pastor and someone who hopes that, by doing this, I can contribute in some small way to the healing of these individuals and what they’ve been through,” Lori said.

Some who attended the hearing said they don’t buy it, given the church’s other court actions.

“Regardless of the outcome of that hearing, there can be no question that the Child Victims Act has already had a profound impact on the lives of child sexual abuse survivors in Maryland,” a member of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, Frank Schindler, said.

Aside from lawyers entering their appearance on the record, no one other than the survivors spoke in court, including the judge, who limited her own comments to “thank you.”

See original article for the Recent Timeline.