What Happened To Father Neil Magnus? 'The Keepers' Priest Went On To Serve At Another School
Netflix's newest original docuseries, The Keepers, focuses on the brutal and mysterious murder of a young nun who taught at a Catholic high school in Baltimore. The nun's former students have since launched their own amateur investigation into who killed her, while also bringing forth allegations of a rampant sexual abuse ring, allegedly led by Father Joseph Maskell and Father Neil Magnus. According to the Baltimore Sun, Maskell denied the accusations until his death in 2001. But, what happened to Father Neil Magnus?
Magnus died in 1988 before Wehner ever came forward with her allegations. Bustle reached out to a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Baltimore who employed both men and oversaw Keough High School. The Church had this to say about allegations against Magnus: "An allegation of abuse against any priest or anyone representing the Church is deeply troubling and sad. We feel shame and regret for anyone victimized and offer them our sincere prayers and support."
Rolling Stone reports that Magnus was the Director of Religious Studies at Keough Catholic High School throughout the late '60s and '70s. He served with Father Joseph Maskell, who was the chaplain of the school at this time. While much of the abuse allegations revolve around Maskell, Magnus is mentioned in a couple of horrifying allegations himself. In a 2014 statement to Inside Baltimore (which is a website published by Baltimore reporter and Keepers subject Tom Nugent), former Keough student Teresa Lancaster alleged that she approached Magnus for help with Maskell, but he allegedly brushed her off. Lancaster claims that he said, "I'm sorry, but I can't help you. Try to stay away from him."
Other former students, including the original "Jane Doe" in the case, Jean Hargadon Wehner also allegedly suffered abuse by both Maskell and Magnus, allegedly sometimes at the same time, under the guise of healing her soul, according to The Huffington Post.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore acknowledged the allegations against Maskell in a statement to Bustle:
Since the 1990s, when the Archdiocese of Baltimore first learned of an allegation of child sexual abuse against Maskell, and on numerous occasions since, the Archdiocese has publicly acknowledged and apologized for the horrific abuse committed by him. The Archdiocese reported the allegations to civil authorities in the 1990s and cooperated fully in any investigation, removed Father Maskell’s faculties to function as a priest, apologized to victims and offered them counseling assistance, sought additional victims, and provided direct financial assistance to 16 individuals abused by Maskell.
Though it was unaware of the abuse at the time it occurred approximately 50 years ago, the Archdiocese deeply regrets the damage that was caused to those who were so badly harmed and has worked diligently since becoming aware of their abuse to bring some measure of healing to them. The Archdiocese is wholly committed to protecting children, holding abusers accountable — clergy and laity alike, and promoting healing for victims. These are hallmarks of the Archdiocese’s child protection efforts, which we strive to constantly strengthen.
There is no room in the Archdiocese for anyone who would harm a child and every effort must be made to ensure what happened before never happens again. It is our hope that The Keepers advances this pursuit, just as we hope the series helps those who have kept alive the memory of Sr. Cathy and our collective hope that justice will be won for her.
It is important to note that none of the accusations were brought to light before Magnus died. So, he went on to lead a normal life following the alleged abuse and there is relatively little information about him online. After leaving Keough, in August 1982, he became the principal of Towson Catholic High School before eventually passing away in 1988.