Police getting some calls about nun's 1969 slaying

June 22, 1994|By Joe Nawrozki and Robert A. Erlandson | Joe Nawrozki and Robert A. Erlandson,Sun Staff Writers

Baltimore County police have received "a handful" of telephone calls about their investigation of the unsolved slaying of Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik since a story in Sunday's Sun detailed their renewed efforts in the 25-year-old case.

Capt. Rustin Price, head of the homicide squad, said, "We have nothing concrete yet, but the information's coming in, and we're going to run out everything we get. It's still too early, though, to see where it takes us." Police are seeking help from the public in their efforts to find the killer of the popular teaching nun, whose body was found on a snow-crusted field in Lansdowne on Jan. 3, 1970, about two months after she disappeared.

Meanwhile, two Towson attorneys said that since Sunday they have been contacted by 18 women who claim to know about alleged sexual abuse by a priest at the Catholic high school in Baltimore where Sister Catherine taught 25 years ago.

That brings to nearly 60 the number of women who in the last year have told the lawyers that they had some knowledge, direct or from former schoolmates, about sexual abuse at Archbishop Keough High School in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The cases are linked because one of the alleged abuse victims, who attended Keough at the time, has told police that the priest knew where the nun's body was and that he took her to see it weeks before it was found by hunters.

The woman has told Baltimore County authorities and The Sun that she confided in Sister Catherine about the abuse late in the spring of 1969, several months before the nun disappeared. Assistant City State's Attorney Sharon H. May, chief of the Baltimore sex abuse unit, also has interviewed the woman twice, most recently last week.

The priest has denied to The Sun any knowledge of the slaying and has said said that he never engaged in sexual activity with Keough students.

Beverly A. Wallace, one of the attorneys in Towson who is researching allegations made by former Keough students in preparation for a possible civil suit, said yesterday that one of the telephone calls to her office Monday was from a Baltimore therapist whose said a client had told him she was abused by the same priest.

Another attorney, James Maggio, said at least 15 women have called him since Sunday and described incidents of abuse at Keough during the same period. He refused to discuss details but said he expects to interview at least five of those women this week.

The woman whose allegations link the cases said another man she met in the priest's office told her he had beaten Sister Catherine to death because the nun knew of the alleged sexual molestation. She said the priest and the other man -- whom she has not identified -- warned her that she would suffer the same fate if she told her story to anyone else.

Several detectives involved in the 1970 investigation have told The Sun that their initial efforts were hampered by pressure and lack of cooperation from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore.

William Blaul, spokesman for the archdiocese, said officials there deny that such interferences could have occurred.

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