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Victim of clergy abuse in Netflix’s ‘The Keepers’ speaks out.
The story of young women who say they were abused at Archbishop Keough High School in the late ’60s through the early ’70s is highlighted in a Netflix docudrama called “The Keepers.”
One of the victims featured in the show spoke about coming forward after all these years. It’s taken almost 50 years for Teresa Lancaster to come out of the shadows and talk about the abuse that she said has plagued her life. She said she’s not hiding anymore.
“It was very exciting to go to Keough. It was a new school. It was really an honor to be accepted there,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster started the school in 1968. She said her excitement would eventually turn into pure hell.
“I sought out the help of Father Maskell to help patch things up between myself and my parents, and that’s when the abuse started in the fall of 1970,” Lancaster said.
Maskell was the school’s chaplain.
“He took myself and my friend, Linda, to a wooded area, where there was a lot of police cars and flashlights and stuff, and I was raped by two policemen there,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said she warned other girls at school to stay away from Maskell, but could not bring herself to tell anyone in authority about the abuse.
“He told me, if I told anybody he would shoot me, and he would destroy the family, and it was just so scary, that I didn’t know where to go,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster filed a lawsuit against Maskell and others in 1994 over the alleged abuse and used the name Jane Roe. The case did not go forward because of the statute of limitations. She later revealed her identity in “The Keepers.”
“I had received threats, actually, and now I’m at the point in my life when I’m not afraid anymore, and think it’s so important to get this story out there that I’m not going to hide,” Lancaster said.
She plans to share her story as much as she can.
“It’s like having a dark shadow over your head, and now, though, that it’s out in the open, I feel like everybody is supporting me. I feel better about it now than I ever have. I just want people know, that’s why I am talking about it,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Last Saturday, I went to the Keough farewell day. I wasn’t going to go. It was kind of tough, but when I got there, so many people came up to me and gave me a hug, thanked me and in tears, and quite a number of victims came up and told me they were abused as well,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said everyday she gets a new message from someone saying Maskell abused them too.
In 1994, Lancaster filed a lawsuit against Maskell and others over the alleged abuse. The case did not go forward because of the statute of limitations. In 2011, she went through mediation with the Archdiocese and received $40,000. More importantly, she got to tell her story to church lawyers who previously didn’t believe her.
“You called me mixed up and promiscuous and now, finally, you believe me and they gave me a letter of apology, but why, why did it take 40 years?” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said her story is bringing awareness to the issue of abuse. She wants to see it stop and she wants to church to do more.
“Priests are still being moved from parish to parish, and I hope that the Archdiocese of Baltimore will say we’re not going to tolerate this anymore, a zero-tolerance policy is what I’m looking for,” Lancaster said. “Bring the records out. Let’s see all of the documents on this case that are well hidden.”
Maskell died in 2001. He was never charged.
The archdiocese issued the following statement:
“The Archdiocese has long had a zero-tolerance policy on the sexual abuse of children and young people. This includes immediate reporting of all allegations and the permanent removal of anyone credibly accused of abuse, whether the accused is a priest or layperson.”