St. Louis Woman Asks Victims of Nun's Abuse to Come Forward

By the Associated Press
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

August 7, 2008

DENVER A woman from St. Louis who says she was molested as a teenager by a nun from Colorado is urging anyone who also was victimized to step forward.

Anne Gleeson, 50, of St. Louis, said Wednesday she was molested by Sister Judith Fisher in St. Louis when she was 13 and again later on a trip to Denver. Fisher later served as a principal at St. Francis De Sales School in Denver during the mid-1970s, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver said.

Gleeson sued Fisher, Fisher's order and the Archdiocese of St. Louis shortly before Fisher died in 2004. The archdiocese settled Gleeson's case and 17 other claims of sexual abuse involving Fisher and five priests after Fisher's death.

The suit said the sexual incidents spanned seven years. They occurred at a parochial school Gleeson attended and its adjacent convent, other places in St. Louis, and on a trip to Colorado.

A spokeswoman for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet said Fisher left the order in 1979.

On Wednesday, Gleeson said she remembers Fisher telling her that the abuse was "God's love."

She said she came to Colorado to reach out to any other person who may have been abused by Fisher. She also held a vigil outside a convention of nuns in Denver last week with five other abuse victims.

Last month, the Archdiocese of Denver agreed to pay $5.5 million to settle 18 more claims by people who said that as children they were sexually abused by priests. The church also released documents on the history of allegations against the late priest Harold While as part of the deal.

Since the settlements, three more people have filed lawsuits against the Denver archdiocese alleging abuse by White. Each time, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, has urged any other victims to come forward.

Denver's Archbishop Charles Chaput publicly has apologized to victims twice since March. He says a current church policy requires that the archdiocese immediately report credible allegations of abuse against a minor to law enforcement and remove the accused person from the ministry.

The archdiocese also has trained about 77,000 priests, deacons, seminarians, employees, students and volunteers on recognizing warning signs and how to protect children from sexual abuse.

Speaking with reporters in Denver, Gleeson says she left the Catholic Church because of the abuse and has not joined another religion.

"It's hard to go into a church," she said.


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