A lawsuit that is scheduled for trial later this year claims 11 Catholic nuns sexually abused 95 children at day schools and residential schools run by the Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province. The suit was filed in 2011 in Lewis and Clark County in Montana. Not only does the lawsuit list 95 plaintiffs, but it also includes placeholders for as many as 105 potential victims.
The trial is expected to begin on December 1, which is when the plaintiffs’ attorneys will start trying to prove the 11 accused, who served at St Ignatius Mission School from the 1940s through 1970s, abused students belonging to the Flathead Indian Reservation, emotionally, physically and even sexually.
“It affected a whole generation of Native American kids,” said Vito de la Cruz, an attorney for the plaintiffs.
Close to 5,000 priests and deacons in the United States have been accused of sexually abusing congregation members, dating back to the 1950s. In contrast to that, only an estimated 88 female religious figures have been accused of similar charges, according to an online database. This database reveals approximately 400 alleged victims of female religious figures and that data is exclusive of the Montana case.
While only two of the accused have been found guilty of criminal charges until now, dozens of others have been named in civil lawsuits. The Diocese of Helena, one of the organizations named in the suit, earlier settled a separate lawsuit that claimed church officials had covered up complaints of abuse by its priests. Reportedly, the diocese paid $15 million in compensation to its victims and another $2.5 million for future allegations. It thereafter declared bankruptcy.
Photo Credits: JMG's Blog