Baltimore police create online form for abuse related to 'The Keepers' documentary

Baltimore police have created an online form for people to report sex offense allegations related to the Netflix documentary "The Keepers."

The documentary focuses on sexual abuse at Archbishop Keough High School in the 1960s and 1970s, and the unsolved killing of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik, a nun who taught there.

City police spokesman T.J. Smith said Tuesday that since the series premiered Friday, the department has received calls from people "who have alleged that they were victims of sex offenses that went unreported back then."

"People have since come forward that have been watching this documentary," he said.

Smith said the fact that suspects might be dead "doesn't mean [victims] can't come forward and report" abuse.

He declined to say how many people have called, but said police want to "streamline the process" so victims don't have to tell their stories over and over again.

"This is a pretty significant event that happened to people that were young at the time, and they're now reliving this," Smith said. "It's people who didn't come forward back then that are coming forward today, and we've gotten a couple of those calls."

The form can be found at baltimorepolice.org/news/sexoffenseform.

Baltimore County police are handling Cesnik's homicide case because her body was found there, but the school was located in the city.

The Netflix series focuses on the theory that Cesnik was killed because she knew about sexual abuse at Keough — particularly abuse by the Rev. A. Joseph Maskell, the counselor and chaplain there.

Maskell was never criminally charged, even after abuse allegations against him became public in the 1990s. He denied the accusations before his death in 2001.

Since 2011, the Archdiocese of Baltimore has paid $472,000 in legal settlements to 16 people who said Maskell abused them.

Some of the people who have received the settlements also alleged that they were sexually abused by police officers, according to their attorneys.

"The Keepers" filmmakers have launched a website meant to raise awareness of sexual abuse and offer resources to survivors. That website can be found at thekeepersimpact.com.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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