A woman who says she was sexually abused, starting at the age of five, by an uncle who was a priest claims that ten years on she was she became the victim of an abusive nun.
Speaking to America’s CBS News earlier this week, Trish Cahill , above, said that Sister Eileen Shaw plied her with drugs and alcohol while teaching her how to have sex with a woman at a convent in New Jersey.
While the Catholic Church has been plagued with high-profile abuse scandals, the term “paedophile nun” is rarely heard. This, said Cahill is:
Really a shame. Because there’s a lot of them out there … it’s the secret not yet told.
Mary Dispenza, above, a former nun from another congregation, is trying to change that. She remembers what happened when a superior summoned her to her room.
I knelt down right next to her and she kissed me all over softly, my face … and I want to say, ‘Oh but it wasn’t bad,’ but it was. And I’ve carried it with me until today.
Through her work with The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) she said she would occasionally hear about abuse or cover-ups by nuns but since the publication of a grand jury report identified hundreds of paedophile priests in Pennsylvania, at least 18 people have contacted her to share stories of abuse by religious sisters.
SNAP, according to Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, is a “fraud”, and:
Is driven by a pathological hatred of the Catholic Church, not a concern for the welfare of victims.
A lot has to do with the culture of nuns which are, they are very, very private by nature.
She also said:
The demands of chastity and celibacy are unrealistic demands for many of us.
Cahill reported her abuse to the sisters of charity of St Elizabeth in 1994. The congregation paid her a $70,000 out-of-court settlement. She said:
They had canon lawyers on retainer just for people like me. Shut her up, pacify her, tell her you love her and you’ll pray for her, and send her on her way.
In a statement, the congregation told CBS News:
The case was investigated immediately when it was reported in 1994 and a settlement was reached that was mutually agreed on by all parties. We believe that the Sisters of Charity acted in a responsible manner.
CBS News reached out to Sister Eileen Shaw, but she hung up on reporter Nikki Battiste.
The Sisters of Charity removed Shaw from her role as a grade school principal but reports she remains a nun. They’re providing her with food and housing while restricting her from outside ministry.
In the meantime, Cahill said the settlement she signed wasn’t enough to help her deal with a lifetime of trauma. But she hopes that her voice can help prevent this from happening again.