Bishop Malooly responds to “The Keepers”

“The Keepers,” the Netflix documentary series that explores sexual abuse at a Baltimore Catholic school for girls, and the murder of a nun in the 1960s, hints that Bishop Malooly may have participated in a cover-up regarding the abuse by A. Joseph Maskell, a Baltimore priest. The abuse apparently took place at the school from 1967 until 1975. Bishop Malooly served in various administrative roles with the Archdiocese beginning nine years later in 1984 and continuing until his appointment as the Ninth Bishop of Wilmington in 2008.

Here is Bishop Malooly’s response to these insinuations:

“In the spirit of truth, I would like to make some clarifications regarding some of the claims and insinuations that were made in ‘The Keepers.’ My intention is to set the record straight, and in no way do I wish to minimize the pain and suffering caused by the abuse perpetrated by Joseph Maskell, or any other priest.

In 1992, while serving as Chancellor and Vicar General for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, I was first made aware of the accusations of sexual abuse of minors by Joseph Maskell. At that time, the adult survivor and her attorney were urged to report the abuse to civil authorities, and the survivor was offered counseling assistance. Maskell was removed from ministry and referred for evaluation and treatment with full disclosure to the facility as to the reason for the treatment. Maskell denied the allegation, and after months of evaluation and treatment, he was returned to ministry in 1993 after the Archdiocese was unable to corroborate the allegation following its extensive investigation.

When additional allegations were made in 1994, Maskell was permanently removed from ministry on July 31, 1994. The Archdiocese of Baltimore publicly stated that it wanted to speak with individuals who had information regarding Maskell. A detective was hired to search for anyone who may have been abused by him. In 1994, a music director at a Catholic church told the Archdiocese that Dr. Charles Franz may have information regarding Maskell, and so we reached out to him and set up a meeting for October 20, 1994.

The meeting occurred at the Catonsville dental office of Dr. Franz, with Dr. Charles and Mrs. Denise Franz, Fr. Richard Woy, Director of Clergy Personnel for the Archdiocese, and myself in attendance. There were no canon or civil lawyers present. I explained to Dr. Franz that Archbishop Keeler would have attended the meeting to express his apology and to reach-out personally, had he not been in Rome at the time. I explained the policy of the Archdiocese to offer counseling and spiritual assistance as needed. I also encouraged them to report the information to the State’s Attorney. At no time did I offer Dr. Franz a boat.

Charles Franz states that his mother made some kind of a report about Maskell to unidentified Archdiocesan authorities in 1967.  I am not aware of any such report.  I was a college student in 1967.  As far as I know, there is no record of any report by Mrs. Franz in Archdiocesan files.

The crime of sexual abuse of a child or young person is inexcusable, especially when it is committed by a member of the clergy – the very person who should be looking out for the spiritual well-being of all persons – particularly the young. The survivors of clergy sexual abuse should be commended for speaking out. It is because of their bravery that the truth of these heinous crimes has come to light. We as a Church must continue our best efforts to help survivors deal with the painful after-effects of sexual abuse.”

Bishop Malooly served two consecutive terms as a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse (now called the Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People) that initiates actions on behalf of the Bishops of the United States to address the problem of sexual abuse of minors and, in conjunction with the National Review Board, provided recommendations relating to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. More information is available at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/child-and-youth-protection/index.cfm.

There is no doubt that some Church leaders made terrible mistakes in the past when dealing with clergy sexual abuse; however, in the 1990s and into the 2000s, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was a leader in the area of outreach to abuse survivors, and transparency in that regard. In 2002, they were the very first Archdiocese to make public a list of credibly accused clergymen going back decades. They repeatedly issued public statements regarding Joseph Maskell’s abuse and held public meetings to address the concerns of the community. They were among the first to use mediation as a way to offer monetary compensation and counselling assistance to survivors. These happened while Bishop Malooly held an important leadership role in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The Archdiocese of Baltimore did not cover-up Maskell’s abuse.

More information regarding the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s response to “The Keepers” including information about the abuse perpetrated by Joseph Maskell, and the murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik is available at www.archbalt.org.