Investigators looking into decades-old claims of abuse at a defunct Vermont orphanage are making it easier for victims to come forward.
Early this week, a city and state task force announced it would examine reports of physical and sexual abuse at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, a Catholic-run facility that closed in 1974.
Allegations of violence at the hands of nuns in the facility, including claims of murder, surfaced in a recent article for BuzzFeed News, and generated new attention on the old facility.
The Burlington Police Department has opened an online portal to take information from people who want to report abuse.
A city spokeswoman said police dispatchers have also been trained to take calls, with access to a screening form and intake information for older folks who may not have computer access.
The phone number for the Burlington Police Department is 802-658-2704.
Monday, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan said it may be too late to get legal justice in many cases, due to statutes of limitation on abuse. However, there is no statute of limitation on murder.
Despite the challenges of investigating cases that date back more than four decades, the task force said it still wants to hear from survivors, to let them know they’re cared for, listened to, and respected.
Weinberger added that it is important for the community to learn from this chapter of history, so any past mistakes will not be repeated.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has promised full cooperation with investigators.