Alleged Victims Of Abuse By Nuns Speak Out

By Dina Kaplan

(LOUISVILLE, July 19th, 2004, 5:30 p.m.) -- On Monday a half-dozen women came forward to speak about horrific crimes they say they suffered at a Catholic orphanage in Anchorage in the 1950s. They are now plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the sisterhood that ran the orphanage. WAVE 3's Dina Kaplan reports.

Five of the alleged victims are sisters, who were reunited recently for the first time in years after living in different areas of the country. When they began talking about the days they spent at the St. Thomas/St. Vincent Orphanage, they realized each of them had their own tale of abuse -- and one of the sisters says she was impregnanted by a priest at the orphanage, and that the nuns there knew exactly what was going on.

Plaintiff Helen Edwards says she miscarried during her pregnancy. She says one of the nuns told her "'I'm taking you to the hospital, you are not to say nothing. I will do all the talking.'"

Darlene Kustef says the abuse "wasn't just sexual. It went on from fondling ... the extremes that it went. It was also the physical abuse that we were put through."

The St. Thomas/St. Vincent Orphanage is now closed, but the plaintiffs are suing the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, an international sisterhood based near Anchorage, that ran the orphanage when the alleged abuse occurred.

The plaintiffs say they aren't necessarily looking for a monetary settlement. They want to see the nuns in court, and cannot wait to tell their stories to a judge and jury.

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Online Reporter: Dina Kaplan

Online Producer: Michael Dever