Horror in the Orphanage

Nuns at St. Joseph Catholic Orphanage in Vermont are accused of abusing and killing some of their wards.

"Be generous to the poor orphans and those in need. The man to whom our Lord has been liberal ought not to be stingy. We shall one day find in Heaven as much rest and joy as we ourselves have dispensed in this life." Saint Ignatius warned Christians to take care of those kids that didn't have parents. The Nuns of St. Joseph in Burlington, Vermont did not heed his advice. Many of the orphans were separated from their siblings, forgot about their birthdays (including how old they are), and some even were given new names. The children were abused, tortured, sexually abused, and some were murdered by the nuns assigned to care for them. Skeletons that the Catholic Church have long tried to hide are tumbling out of the closet.

A girl, Sally Dale, witnessed a boy being thrown from a fourth story window. The Nun that has been walking with her went to work to change the narrative immediately. She accused Sally of having an active imagination and not being grateful for everything the orphanage had done for her. “He kind of hit, and..." Dale recounted in a deposition. Clearly emotional. One of the lawyers offered the word "bounced." She nodded her head and continued, “Well, I guess you’d call it—it was a bounce, and then he laid still.”

With just that brief description, a picture formed of what was happening to the wards of these alleged women of God. The horror of what was seen though hadn't been fully explained. Dale recounted for the court everything that she remembered about the night. "The first thing I saw was looking up, hearing the crash of the window, and then him going down, but my eyes were still glued—.” Dale used her finger to show where the window would have been, and the continued her story. “That habit thing, whatever it is, that they wear, stuck out like a sore thumb.” A frightened young girl watched as one of the people who was supposed to care for her, and the others pushed a young boy out of the window. Dale mimicked how she saw the Nun's arms but admitted that for a long time, she thought that the boy had accidentally fallen from the window. And that boy was just one of the children that Dale saw die, murder or otherwise. She was traumatized.

Another orphan that experienced horrific trauma at the hands of a nun was Joseph Barquin. In the early 1950s, Joseph had been sent to the Orphanage in St. Joseph in Burlington. Barquin recounted a story to his wife and to his attorney, Philip White, about a nun fondling his penis, then after she was done, using a sharp object and cutting it. There was blood everywhere, he told them. Barquin began a support group for people who had been in the orphanage. There was also a conference that brought everyone together, it was held at the Hampton Inn in Colchester, Vermont.

Which brings us back to Sally Dale. She was listening to one of the speakers and recalled a story he told. Some of the Nuns had ordered other boys to rape Roger Barber. That deserves to be said again; nuns ordered other boys to rape and humiliate Roger Barber. They encouraged these boys to force gay sex. It speaks volumes about what these kids went through.

Dale also recalled, with the help of another victim, that the nuns would force kids to eat their own vomit. The nun yelled at her, "You will not be this stubborn! You will sit, and you will eat it."

Rape. Abuse. Murder. These are just some of the horrors that occurred at St. Joseph of Burlington. Who knows what stories would be told from other orphanages or what stories are still to be told from St. Josephs. Vermont prosecutors are investigating and looking to bring charges. But is it too late for justice to be served for the kids that were in and out of the orphanage?  

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Horror in the Orphanage
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