Vermont Attorney General T J Donovan, above, announced yesterday (Friday) that officials in Burlington plan to open an investigation into a now-disused Catholic orphanage that was allegedly the site of extensive abuse that lasted for decades. One instance involved a boy who was allegedly pushed to his death from a window by a nun.
According to this report, the investigation into St Joseph’s Catholic Orphanage is expected to be announced Monday. In a statement to BuzzFeed News on Friday, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger said that officials had recently discussed their options regarding the facility, and that the allegations are “horrific and demand investigation.”
The planned investigation comes after a report from BuzzFeed News documented years of abuse at the orphanage, which closed in 1974. One woman, Sally Dale, who entered the facility in 1940 and lived there for more than two decades, told a lawyer that she saw a nun push a boy to his death from a window, that she was forced to kiss the body of a boy who was electrocuted, and that she was sent into a fire pit to retrieve a ball.
Dale, according to this report, reckoned the boy fell from the window in around 1944, because she was moving to the “big girls” dormitory that day. Girls usually moved when they were six, though residents of St Joseph’s Orphanage did not always have a clear sense of their age – birthdays of children who passed through its doors were never acknowledged by the sadists who ran the place.
She recounted his fall in a deposition on November 6, 1996. It was part of a group of lawsuits that 28 former residents brought against the nuns, the diocese, and the social agency that oversaw the orphanage. The lawsuits detailed alleged instances of torture and sexual abuse, among other horrors.
Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo is also expected to be involved in the investigation into the orphanage.
Del Pozo said that the investigation is still in its “nascent stages” and officials have not yet decided how to proceed. Del Pozo added that:
If nothing else, there is [a] need for truth and reconciliation. It’s safe to say that the mayor and I feel it’s in the interests of justice to offer a full accounting of the crimes. We feel it’s the duty of the state to do so.
The Vermont announcement came shortly after the New York Attorney General’s office issued subpoenas to every Catholic diocese in the state with regard to Catholic sex abuse.