Decades of Sex Abuse Allegations Against Late Baltimore Priest Resurface in Settlements

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Courtesy The Huffington Post/Archbishop Keough HS Yearbook
Courtesy The Huffington Post/Archbishop Keough HS Yearbook

A number of people who say they were sexually abused by a priest at Archbishop Keough High School in their younger years have received payouts from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

The Sun reported today that “about a dozen” victims had received settlements over the past several months. All of them had accused Father A. Joseph Maskell, who died in 2001, of sexually abusing them at some point in their lives. A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed to the newspaper that Maskell’s victims had begun receiving checks in 2011 and said that a portion of each payment is reserved for counseling services. An attorney for the victims noted to the Sun that many of his clients were disappointed in the amount of the checks, based on Maskell’s alleged offenses.

Among the victims was Donna Von Den Bosch, a Reading, Pa., nurse who attended Archbishop Keough High School in Southwest Baltimore in the 1970s. (The school has since been combined with another school and is named Seton Keough High School. It’s slated to close at the end of this school year.)

Former Baltimore Sun reporter Tom Nugent reported in September that Von Den Bosch had received a check from the church. Nugent wrote on his website, Inside Baltimore, that the victim said she had been raped by Maskell repeatedly in the 1970s and had also been raped by a policeman and another priest while she was a student. She told Nugent the first incident happened when she was 14.

“What could I do? I was terrified all the time,” Von Den Bosch was quoted as saying. “Going to school each day was agony. I used to try to hide from him under stairwells and anywhere else I could hide. I didn’t dare say anything about the rapes. I thought he would kill my parents!”

More than 40 years later, Von Den Bosch has received compensation from a settlement reached out of court. However, according to Nugent’s story, the agreement she signed prohibits her from bringing any additional case against the church in the future, even if the state changes the rules for the statute of limitations for such cases. Currently, child sex abuse victims must bring civil, or non-criminal, suits against their perpetrators by age 25.

Maskell died 15 years ago, but his legacy has carried on in some ugly and creepy stories in recent years. Beyond these cases, other investigations have linked him to the disappearance of a nun at Archbishop Keough.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has a documented dark history of allegations of sexual abuse that don’t end with Maskell. Those wondering about other priests from the area can check the archdiocese’s running public list of clergy accused of sexual abuse.

Ethan McLeod
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  1. Thank you Ethan for sharing this story. People new to Baltimore have no idea of the subculture history of this city. This kind of thing still goes on under our noses. On the surface the church is trying to put on a good face but the pope recently made a statement that men will always control the church. This enables this kind of thing to continue. The church is wealthy and powerful. They will protect the institution at all costs – been doing it for centuries.

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