The Evil Corpus Delecti


I am haunted, disturbed, angry, frustrated. So, I write.

Last evening, I finished watching the documentary series, The Keepers. Although you’ll end up suffering from the same emotions I have right now, I think it’s important that people know the extent to which such evil can be promulgated, executed, and, yes, covered up. So I think you, too, should watch the series.

Just a few years ago (2014? Can’t remember for sure) in Baltimore, a middle-aged woman began to remember things that she had suppressed from her childhood and teen years. Once her memory began to regenerate, the horror of rampant sexual abuse and terrorizing threats grew to vivid images and recollections.

Meanwhile, high school contemporaries renewed old friendships in a focused effort to find out what really happened to their favorite teacher, Sister Cathy Cesnick, whose brutal murder was never solved.

The woman whose memories were surfacing filed charges against Father Haskell, who had been the counselor for the Catholic girls’ Keough High School. She was listed in the suit as “Jane Doe.” Soon, another woman also filed charges and she was named “Jane Roe.” Eventually, all these women found each other and pursued an intense investigation, meeting opposition at every turn.

Father Haskell had abused altar boys in his first parish (only one man came forward with accusations,) so the Baltimore diocese transferred him to Keough as the school’s guidance counselor. At Keough, he would call a girl to his office over the loudspeaker and abuse her there in every vile way. Sometimes he had a police officer in the room, guarding at the door and watching the abuse. Sometimes, the police officer would participate. Both the officer and the priest displayed their guns and explained the pain they could cause the girls with those guns.

Sister Cathy Cesnick was loved and respected, both as a teacher and a caring person, by her students. Because of the kind of person she was, she began to suspect things weren’t right when certain girls were repeatedly called to Haskell’s office. She hinted at suspicions to close family and friends. Soon after, as she went to a local store one night to buy a gift for her sister, she disappeared. Her mud-spattered car mysteriously reappeared, parked in the street near her apartment.

“Jane Doe” also remembered Father Haskell taking her to a woods shortly after the nun went missing, right to the body of Sister Cathy (who had not yet been found by authorities) and told her that’s what could happen to her if she ever told anybody anything. She remembered wiping maggots off Sister’s face.

Can you imagine how horrible all this must have been for a 14-year-old girl? No wonder she suppressed those sordid memories.

The documentary gives dates and facts and names. The women interviewed police, FBI, filed FOI (Freedom of Information) forms, and plodded through everything possible. They were stonewalled at every turn. Even though Cathy’s body was eventually found and the murder never solved, the police could find no records in their evidence room when the women tried to retrieve them. NONE!

Eventually, the women tried to bring what they had to court, but the Archdiocese of Baltimore also came to court, fighting—and winning—the battle to increase the number of years after the crime was committed for sexual abuse victims to be able to press charges.

Bottom line:  Father Haskell and several Baltimore police officers repeatedly sexually abused young teen-aged girls and obviously—since Haskell showed Jane Doe Sister Cathy’s dead body—were involved somehow in the nun’s murder. And the Baltimore Police Department and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore are blocking every effort by the victims to solve Cathy’s murder and to receive some kind of closure/relief from knowing that the perpetrators are caught and being punished. (Haskell died several years ago and hopefully is reaping his rewards.)

How can we continue to let this happen? Because–as long as we keep quiet–we ARE letting this happen.

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