Vermont Launches Criminal Probe Into Priest Sex Abuse

by David Nussman  •  •  September 11, 2018   

Prompted by exposé on nuns' torture at orphanage

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MONTPELIER, Vt. ( - The Vermont attorney general is announcing an investigation into child abuse cover-ups in the Catholic Church.

Following a Buzzfeed article that discussed disturbing allegations of physical and sexual abuse at St. Joseph's Orphanage in Vermont, the state's attorney general office is announcing an investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and religious.

Vermont Attorney General Timothy J. Donovan said on Sept. 7, "We'll do an investigation."

"Certainly it will be about the allegations specifically about St. Joseph's," he added, "but my sense is we will also look at some larger issues involved here."


Donovan noted, "We are concerned about any allegations of abuse. Any allegations of any sort of cover-up is something we will look at."

Buzzfeed spoke with people who spent their childhood in the orphanage and allege widespread abuse and torturous punishments by the sisters running the orphanage. One lady said a priest sexually assaulted her at the orphanage when she was a little girl.

In addition to the Buzzfeed article, Donovan said the Pennsylvania grand jury report also spurred an investigation into Catholic clerical sex abuse in Vermont.

The bombshell report in Pennsylvania describes the alleged sexual abuse of children by some 300 clergy and religious in six of the state's eight dioceses — and the cover-ups by numerous prelates.

Vermont is only mentioned one time in the Pennsylvania report, in a vague passing reference related to Fr. Donald Dorsey of the Scranton diocese, who was accused of making sexual advances on underaged girls.

Scranton's Bp. Jerome Hannan (whose name is apparently misspelled in the grand jury report) shared information about Fr. Dorsey's exploitation of underage girls with the diocese of Burlington — which encompasses the entire state of Vermont — and the archdiocese of New York, following inquiries from those two dioceses.

Bishop Hannan headed the diocese of Scranton from 1954 to 1965 and shared the information about Fr. Dorsey with Vermont and New York in either 1964 or 1965.

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