New Jersey: An American woman is alleging she was sexually abused by a group of nuns from a New Jersey convent – including an incident where she was given booze and drugs while being taught how to have sex with another woman.
Trisha Cahill said she was 15 when she revealed to a nun that she was reportedly abused by her uncle, who was a priest. The woman claimed she confided in Sister Eileen Shaw, telling her that her now dead uncle had sexually abused her starting at age 5.
What Cahill didn’t think at the time was that Shaw would allegedly be grooming her for something far worse.
“I would have done anything for her. I would’ve died for her,” said Cahill. “She gave me everything that was lacking that I didn’t even know I was lacking.
“I was so broken. She filled in all those pieces.”
Cahill said the nun began giving her drugs and alcohol and taught her how to have sexual relations with another woman. The woman said she would be with her friends during the day, but was “with this pedophile nun on evenings and on the weekends, and in the summer.”
In 1994, Cahill reported Shaw to the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth in central New Jersey. She received a $70,000 settlement by the congregation.
The woman said the congregation’s lawyer paid her off to “shut her up … and send her on her way.”
In a statement, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth said the case was investigated and the settlement was “mutually agreed on by all parties.”
“We believe that the Sisters of Charity acted in a responsible manner,” the statement read.
Cahill claims she suffers from post-traumatic stress and abuses drugs and alcohol because of the alleged deeds.
Cahill’s allegations hit Mary Dispenza close to home.
An ex-nun from another congregation, Dispenza claims a superior had knelt down beside her and “kissed me all over softly.”
“I wanted to say, ‘Oh, but it wasn’t bad,’ but it was,” Dispenza told CBS News. “And I’ve carried it with me until today.
Despite the alleged sexual abuse, Dispenza opened up about her story after joining the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a support group for anyone hurt by religious and institutional authorities. Dispenza claims several women have come forward and contacted SNAP to report alleged sexual abuse by nuns.
The two women’s stories are the latest in a series of gut punches for the Roman Catholic Church, which has been accused in the past of covering up sexual abuse by its clergy.
In December, Pope Francis vowed the church will “never again” cover-up sexual abuse cases, demanding priests who have credible allegations made against them to turn themselves in.