When the topic is Catholic pedophilia, we tend to think of the perpetrators as priests — men. This upcoming child sexual abuse trial in Montana has only female defendants, though.
[T]he Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province will defend themselves against allegations that 11 sisters who served at the St. Ignatius Mission church and school on the Flathead Indian Reservation from the 1940s to the early 1970s physically, sexually and emotionally abused boarding and day school students.
While about 5,000 priests and deacons in the United States have been accused of sexual abuse since 2003 in cases stretching back into the 1950s, the best estimates of U.S. women religious accused of abuse — not counting the 11 in this case — is around 88, according to Bishop-accountability.org, an online archive established by lay Catholics to track abuse claims.
The Montana padres, in a 2011 suit, were hit with similar charges:
A separate lawsuit against the diocese… alleged the diocese covered up abuse by its priests; that case led to the diocese declaring bankruptcy and it is in the final stages of settlement. The diocese agreed to $15 million in compensation, at least $2.5 million for future claims, a public apology and publication of the names of abusive clergy members.
The lawsuit against the Ursuline sisters came after the accused nuns declared for years that they are open to a settlement; negotiations, however, proved fruitless.
The plaintiffs claim that
[T]he Ursulines and the diocese knew or should have known about the alleged abuse and asks for unspecified damages. It alleges the Ursulines “engaged in a pattern and practice of sheltering, and protecting nuns, who it knew or should have known, were engaging in sexual abuse,” and transferred sisters in and out “to ensure that children did not complain of the abuse and/or that parents did not discover the abuse.” …
Given the number of plaintiffs and the seriousness of the allegations, a judgment could spell financial ruin for the Ursuline congregation.
Their attorney, [John] Christian, would only say, “Pray for us.”
It would appear to be a little late for that.