Suit Claims Abuse by Nuns at Mass. School

Associated Press/May 11, 2004

Boston -- Nine former students of the Boston School for the Deaf filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging they were raped and beaten by nuns at the now-defunct church-run school.

The plaintiffs named at least 15 nuns in the lawsuit, along with a priest and a male athletic instructor at the Roman Catholic school, according to their attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.

The alleged victims, three women and six men, say they were between the ages of 7 and 16 when they were sexually and physically abused between 1944 and 1977. The Boston School for the Deaf, in Randolph, closed more than a decade ago.

"They are all speech-impaired and hearing-impaired," said Garabedian, who represents a total of 31 former students at the school and expects to file more lawsuits. "Instead of receiving an education, they received beatings and sexually abusive actions."

Garabedian said the abuse included fondling, rape and rape with foreign objects. At least one student's head was submerged, face-first in a toilet; others were locked in closets for hours as a form of punishment. The alleged victims are now 41 to 67 years old.

"The physical abuse is extremely disturbing," said Garabedian, who also has been active in many of the lawsuits in the priest sex abuse scandal.

The nuns named in the lawsuit are from the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston.

William Shaevel, an attorney for the school, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit or received details of the allegations.

"We've asked for but have not received any of the specifics, so we have not been able to conduct our own investigation," he said. "Our guiding principle here will be to conduct our investigation and deal with this with sensitivity, respect and dignity."

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