Testimony about Robert Cullen SJ and Maryland Senate Bill 575

By Helen Daly
Testimony before the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Subcommittee
Annapolis MD
March 1, 2007

My name is Helen Daly, and I grew up in Towson, MD.

I am a longtime journalist who began my career at the Baltimore City Paper, and who currently writes about religion for the Dallas Morning News, and about medicine for Georgetown University Hospital. My valiant and funny comrade Tom Dembeck just posed the question, "Who wants to protect pedophiles?" I'll tell you the answer to that question. The people who are opposing this bill are the ones who want to protect pedophiles.

I’m here today to testify about the urgent need for SB 575, which will create an open-window period where survivors of sexual abuse can name their perpetrators and sue them in civil court.

The reason I support this bill is that I know from personal experience that sexual predators who prey on vulnerable minors are slipping through the cracks in the criminal justice system—and that these predators have been doing so for many years.

I’m here today to tell you that I am a survivor of years of childhood sexual assault by the predator Jesuit priest Robert Cullen SJ—and that I am not the only one.

Beginning in the late 60s, my mother repeatedly reported to and discussed with the Jesuit order that Robert Cullen SJ had been caught in the act of molesting one of her own children. She reported the abuse first to her own brother, the Jesuit priest Leo Daly, SJ. She later reported the abuse to the Jesuit priest Allen P. Novotny, SJ—who is now president of Gongaza High School in Washington DC.

Both Alan Novotny SJ and Leo Daly SJ acknowledge that they never took any action that would publicly identify Robert Cullen SJ as a predator priest—or that would restrict him from contact with minors and the trusting Catholic faithful.

The fact that Robert Cullen SJ had been caught molesting an elementary school child has been well-known within the Jesuit community for decades—and to this date, no action has ever been taken by the Jesuits to inform the public about the sex crimes and professional malpractice committed by Robert Cullen SJ, who died in 2005.


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