(Note: This post contains spoilers for the Netflix documentary series “The Keepers.”)
In Netflix’s documentary series “The Keepers,” several women accuse Father A. Joseph Maskell of sexually abusing them during his time as an administrator at Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore in the late 1960s. Since then, the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore has acknowledged the abuse victims and paid hundreds of thousands in settlements — even though the statute of limitations on the cases has long since lapsed.
Maskell died in 2001 and was never charged or convicted of any crimes. In 1994, two women featured in “The Keepers,” Jean Hargadon Wehner and Teresa Lancaster, sued Maskell and the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore for $40 million over the abuse allegations. The case never went to trial, though. The Maryland statute of limitations for civil suits in child sex abuse cases had run out by then — until 2017, accusers had to make a complaint before they turned 25 years old.
But despite the fact that Maskell was never convicted of a crime, or even charged with one, numerous victims have come forward over the years to accuse him. “The Keepers” director Ryan White told TheWrap that far more than the six victims who appear in the documentary have come forward.
Recently the Baltimore Archdiocese has acknowledged victims’ stories, admitting that Maskell abused them. And while the statute of limitations has run out on all the cases seen in “The Keepers” that took place in the late 1960s, the archdiocese has entered mediation with several victims and paid settlements to them.
As of May, the number of settlements the archdiocese made had risen 16, the Baltimore Sun reported. It also said it had paid more than $472,000 in settlements, as well as $97,000 in money set aside for counseling for victims. Split 16 ways, the $472,000 in settlements works out to $29,500 for each victim.
Among those who received settlements is Donna VonDenBosch, one of the victims who appears in “The Keepers.” She told the Baltimore Sun she received $35,000 from the archdiocese.
Sean Caine, a representative of the archdiocese, told the Baltimore Sun in November that “settlements with victims of Joseph Maskell have been ongoing since at least 2011.”
Tom Nugent, the freelance journalist who appears in “The Keepers” and covered the Maskell allegations in the 1990s, reported in January that Jean Wehner also received a settlement from the archdiocese. According to the story posted on his blog, Inside Baltimore, Jean agreed to a settlement of $50,000 — far less than the $40 million suit she filed in 1994.
In response to “The Keepers,” the Baltimore Archdiocese published a set of frequently asked questions that gives its side of the story, and refutes some of the things said in the documentary. These include statements from Charles Franz, who appears in the documentary and accuses Maskell of abusing him and says the Baltimore Archdiocese knew about Maskell’s abuse as early as 1967. That’s at odds with the archdiocese story that it first learned about accusations against Maskell in 1992.
Need help following the mystery? Check out our gallery below outlining the accused, the victims, and the authorities in “The Keepers.”