necn Investigates: Former Student Accuses Massachusetts Catholic School of Turning a Blind Eye to Sexual Abuse | NECN
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necn Investigates: Former Student Accuses Massachusetts Catholic School of Turning a Blind Eye to Sexual Abuse

A former student says she was sexually abused by her coach and gym teacher back in the 1970s

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    A former student says she was sexually abused by her coach and gym teacher back in the 1970s. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016)

    The first time her coach and gym teacher crossed the line was when she got into the shower with her after softball practice.

    "She was laughing and making a big joke about it - I didn't know." 

    It was the 1970s. She was 14, gay, and a freshman at the Marian High School, a Catholic school in Framingham, Massachusetts.

    Because she is an alleged sexual assault survivor, necn has agreed to shield her identity and call her Jane. She claims former teacher - Diane Ryszewski - sexually abused her for nearly two years and the school did nothing to stop it.

    "She bought me things, she spent money on me, she let me drive her car…"

    Jane had a chaotic home life and started drinking young. She said when the then 25-year-old Ryszewski took an interest in her, she thought it was because she was a good athlete. Even her mother didn't object when Jane moved in with Ryszewski - hoping the coach could help tame her wild child.

    But Jane said Ryszweski gave her drugs and alcohol and that she was ostracized by kids at school who knew of the alleged relationship and saw the pair driving to school together.

    The statute of limitations to seek criminal charges has passed, so Jane's lawyer has filed a civil suit against Ryszewski, the school, the school's former principal Sister Ellen Powers and the Archdiocese of Boston, which bears ultimate responsibility for staff at the Catholic school.

    It alleges that Sister Powers knew Jane was living with Rysewski "but took no action to protect Jane or to end the relationship" and that Jane suffered "bodily harm, humiliation, severe emotional distress and permanent psychological damages."

    Jane said no teacher at any point asked what was going on.

    "I don't think - I wondered too - I thought, well if they think this is OK. If everyone thinks this is OK, and if everybody knows, I guess we're just girlfriends."

    We called Ryszewki, who is now a corporate trainer in North Carolina. She denied the allegations and then told us she had no further comment.

    Sister Powers told us over the phone that she can't confirm or deny the allegations because she can't remember hearing of any relationship between Jane and Ryszewski.

    Jane quit school her sophomore year after she said she left Ryszewski's home. For decades she suffered from depression, low self-esteem and had difficulty maintaining normal relationships. She says only after intense therapy did she see her 14-year-old self as the victim of abuse and says the adults who hurt her should be held responsible.

    "I will never be a victim to anyone again."

    We also reached out to the Archdiocese. A spokesman told us that as a general practice they do not comment on pending or ongoing legal matters.

    Ex-Catholic School Student Speaks Out Against Sex AbuseEx-Catholic School Student Speaks Out Against Sex AbuseAfter decades of silence, a sex abuse victim is speaking out against Diane Ryszewski, her former teacher at Marian High School in Framingham, Massachusetts. (Published Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016)

    Resources for children, adult survivors and their families affected by sexual abuse

     

     

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