Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Former Students Accuse Nuns Of Torment, Rape
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 13, 2004

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS--Nine former students of the Boston School for the Deaf filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing the Roman Catholic nuns who ran the facility of physically, mentally and sexually abusing them when they were children.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and alleges that at least 15 nuns from the Sisters of Saint Joseph, along with a priest and other staff members, abused the students at the facility between 1944 and 1977.

The three women and six men claim they were between age 7 and 16 when they endured the abuse. The alleged victims are now between 41 and 67 years of age.

One plaintiff claims that a nun used a finger to rape her when she was between 7 and 8 years old. By age 9, she claims, the nun locked her in closets for long periods of time. Then the nun began a torture routine that involved forcing the child's head under water in a toilet bowl until she would lose consciousness.

That plaintiff's brother claims that when he was about the same age, he was forced to take off his pants and underwear and walk through the school -- as an alternative to the usual punishment of being stuffed into a cafeteria trash barrel.

Another former student claims in the suit that when he was 12, a nun slapped him across the face and smashed his head into a window that then broke. He accuses the nun of forcing him to pull his pants down in front of his classmates, hitting him with a yardstick and pulling his hair. Later, he claims, the nun forced his head in and out of a toilet bowl full of his own vomit.

Other alleged abuses include genital fondling and rape with foreign objects.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said at a news conference that some of the abuses may have been punishment for students who tried to use sign language to communicate. The school did not tolerate the use of sign language, he said, and instead encouraged all of the students to use oral language.

"If they were caught using American Sign Language, they would be punished. Some would have their hands tied behind their backs for a couple of hours," he explained.

The suit seeks unspecified damages. Garabedian, who has been involved in many of the recent sex abuse lawsuits against priests, said he represents a total of 31 former students and that he expects to file more lawsuits.

"They were supposed to receive an education. Instead they were sexually molested, physically abused and mentally tormented," he said. "The physical abuse is extremely disturbing."

Boston School for the Deaf, which was located in Randolf, just south of Boston, was closed in 1994.

Many of the accused nuns are now between 75 and 90 years of age and live in assisted or long-term housing.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston responded in a statement that they would proceed "with sensitivity and dignity for the alleged abused and with a sincere reverence for the truth and respect for civil and canon law."

"Deaf plaintiffs speak loudly: Nuns raped us, tortured us" (Boston Herald)


©2018 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.