Lawyer: More Deaf Students Claim Abuse

By Maureen Call
The Enterprise [Randolph MA]
Downloaded May 20, 2004

RANDOLPH -- Since charges of physical and sexual abuse by nuns at the now-closed Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph were filed last week, the attorney handling the cases said he has received numerous calls from other deaf students claiming they were also abused.

"Many more people are coming forward," said Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who filed suit for nine plaintiffs in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston last week. "I've gotten calls from all over the country."

Garabedian, who represents 31 deaf people who claim they were abused from 1944 to 1977 at the school, plans to file more suits in the near future. He also expects to take on more cases from the new calls he has received.

Garabedian would not say how many more people have come forward with claims and would not disclose the nature of the new claims until he finishes investigating claims.

"Many of the new cases also involve sexual and/or physical abuse," he said. "It's a very sad situation."

Last week, Garabedian filed suit on behalf of six men and three women who say they were abused while students at the school. The former students claim the abuse ranged from physical punishment to rape.

According to court documents, some had their heads jammed in toilets while others were locked in dark closets for long periods of time.

A Taunton man said a nun fondled his genitals, put his hand to her breasts and had sexual intercourse with him.

The suits name at least 15 nuns from the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Boston, along with a priest and the school's athletic instructor.

The reported victims, including one from Rockland and another from Taunton, were between 7 and 16 years old when the incidents occurred. They are now ages 41 to 67.

The School for the Deaf was at 800 North Main St. in Randolph, where the Boston Higashi School, a school for autistic children, is now situated.

The former school for the deaf, which opened in 1899, closed in 1994 because of declining enrollment and increasing costs. When it closed, it had 67 students, down from 207 in 1983.

These cases are the first to allege widespread abuse by nuns since the clergy sex abuse scandal began in Boston in early 2002.


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