The human brain is an amazing thing — it’s able to take childhood or past traumas and bury them way down deep inside your memories so that they don’t come up, or maybe they come up when you’re more ready to tackle them. Such is the case with Jean Wehner in The Keepers, who recently recovered repressed memories of alleged abuse at the hands of an authority figure at her former high school. Originally known as Jane Doe, Jean Wehner is breaking her silence on The Keepers, and her bravery and resilience in the face of turmoil is amazing.
Wehner claims that she was just 14 years old in the late 1960s, she began to suffer sexual and mental abuse from Father Joseph Maskell, the then-head counselor and chaplain at Archbishop Keough, a parochial school in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Wehner says the abuse started when, during confession, Wehner admitted that an uncle had allegedly sexually abused her. After her confession, Father Maskell, per Wehner's story, began to touch her inappropriately, speak to her in an inappropriately sexual manner, and rape her, both orally and vaginally. Maskell also brought in other men and allegedly forced Wehner to allow them to rape her. Wehner says Maskell called her a "whore," and told her that her family would never love her if they found out all of the “whoring around” she did. Wehner says these attacks continued until she graduated from Keough.
One ally Wehner had was Sister Cathy Cesnik, a young, popular teacher at the school. Cesnik knew about the claims of abuse and was reportedly about to go to the Archdiocese when she was abducted and murdered. A few days after Cesnik’s disappearance, Maskell allegedly brought Wehner to Cesnik’s body, telling Wehner that this was what happens “when you say bad things about people.”
After high school, Wehner says she repressed these memories. She told no one — not her ten siblings or her husband, Michael. It wasn’t until 1994 that memories came flooding back to Wehner, triggered by seeing a picture of Maskell in a yearbook. Known then as Jane Doe and bolstered by the support of her family, Wehner went before the Archdiocese of Baltimore and outlined the abuses and her story about Maskell showing her Cesnik’s body. With regard to the allegations against Father Maskell, the Archdiocese of Baltimore released the following statement to Bustle:
The Baltimore County Police Department also issued a statement:
Wehner’s testimony about her abuse is truly harrowing to watch. There are moments when she breaks down after reading her own words, when it's impossible not to break down as a viewer. But what strikes me the most about Wehner is how strong she is, despite crying through these horrific things.
When she first testified about her experiences, the Archdiocese allegedly told her that she needed more people to corroborate her testimony. For their part the Archdiocese Of Baltimore's website states that they did take action after Wehner's claims:
But at the risk of overusing a phrase that we’ve been using a lot lately, nevertheless, she persisted. Wehner found it in herself and overcame years of abuse to bring her story forward. You know that saying “not all heroes wear capes”? Neither does Wehner.