If you would like to tell your story about St. Colman's and have it posted here for posterity....please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The world could learn alot from your experience. Perhaps you knew one of the victims or feel compelled to help us tell the truth. Names can be omitted if you would like...just clarify that request in your email and Thank You in advance for your support.
4/30/06......My name is Doris Harris and I know that most of the stories that are posted to this site are about the abuse cases that have happened at St Colmans Home. I am very sorry for the Bonneau's loss of Gilbert when he was only 8. Gilbert has been on my mind and in my prayers every day....
I was a child at St Colmans from 1989 to 1996. There may have been so called "beatings" that went on back in the early part of the 20th century, but while I lived at St Colmans there was absolutely NO abuse that had happened to any one of us children. I saw the pictures of Sister Mary Regina and the comment after her name. Sister Regina was my dorm mother from 1993 to 1996. She was a wonderful woman with a huge heart. That woman would do anything for any one of the children that she came into contact with. While in her dorm area I went through several different life changes whether they be what the church deem a SIN or not she walked me through all of my issues and I felt that I could talk to her on any matter as I did. The other Sister that was posted was Reverend Mother Carmel ( known also as Sister Carmel). She too was a wonderful person that did for every one of us children that were under her care. Why should the Sisters suffer for the actions of other sister that may have happened so many years ago. Not to mention the children that are residing at St Colmans. No one cared for us when the investigation first started over 10 years ago. We were used to a specific TV schedule that we could not watch due to the hurtful things that were said about several of the sisters that were still alive that took very well care of each and every one of us girls that were in the home at the time..
I can honestly say that thank GOD for the Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They have made me the woman that I am today. I was given the best education that I could have received and that is all because the Sisters allowed me to go out to school which was a big privilege. I went to St Ambrose from 4 th to 8th grade and to Catholic Central High School from 1994-1996. I have a lot of love and a very big soft spot in my heart for the Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary!!! They are always on my mind, in heart and prayers!!
I hope that you can post this for everyone to see on your web site. Also, if anyone would like to email me on this matter please feel free to at email@example.com
MY NAME IS LEONA (WINNEY) ADAMS I WAS JUST YOU SITE FOR ST COLMANS AND THE TEARS ARE RUNNING DOWN MY FACE. I READ ABOUT GILBERT BONNEAU. MY HEART GOES OUT TO HIS BROTHERS. I TO WAS ABUSE BY THE SISTERS THOUGH I GUESS I WAS ONE OF THE LUCKY ONES IF THATS WHAT YOU WANT TO CALL IT. I WAS IN ST COLMANS 2 ONC IN THE LATE FORTY'S THEN AGINE IN THE MIDDLE FIFITY'S. THE FRIST TIME I WAS THERE MY FATHER HAD DEVORICED AND MY 2 BROTHERS AND I WERE PLACED THERE. MY OLDER BROTHER WAS 10 I WAS 7 nd my little brother was 4. this might not seem like much but to this day it haunts me and i'm now 62.
one day we were all out in the play yard and the girls were on one side and boys on the other, my baby brother was crying and wanted me, the sister that was there,( her name was sister mary loretta) i ask her if i could go to my brother, she said no and when i asked her again she slapped me in the face. I looked over at my brother and he was still crying, i asked sister again if I could go to my brother again she refused, I started to scream at the top of my lungs, she got very upset and took the big black belt from around her waist and proceeded to beat me with it. when she got done she took me to mother superior for more punishment. mother called my father and told him he couldn't come for a month. after that i new better then do anything out of line. I saw my brother cry many times after that and it broke my heart cause i couldn't go to him.
the second time I was by myself. my father had re married and my stepmother didn't want anything to do with me, so welfare placed me there. this time I was older, I was 12 I didn't mind sleeping in the same room with alot of other girls, but what bothered me was when we had to shower. the sister's would make us get undressed in front of each other and them,then we would have to walk from our room to the showers with their eyes all over us and the would stand there and watch us shower. It used to make me sick to my stomach. when my family did visit and they would bring me things or money, the sisters would take it all away and I would never see it again. when I was 14 my sister had married and took me to live with her. It was the happiest day of my life. I thank you for letting me tell my story. back then no one believed you when you told of what was going on. Now they know.
THE DAMAGE THAT WE SUFFERED TO OUR BODIES AT THE HANDS OF THE SISTERS OF THE PRESITATION WAS EXTREMELY SEVERE. BOTH PHYCIALLY AND MENTALLY. ST. COLMAN'S WAS NOTHING MORE THAN A HELL HOLE. IF WE DIDN'T LIKE THE FOOD AND GOT SICK ON IT WE WERE MADE TO EAT OUR OWN VOMIT. WE WERE PUT IN DUMB WAITERS AND THE THE NUNS WOULD STOP THE DUMB WAITER BETWEEN FLOORS. WE WERE LEFT FOR LONG PERIODS OF TIME. I SPENT MOST OF MY LIVE AT ST.COLMANS IN THE INFIRMIRMY. WE WERE BEATEN AND THEN GIVEN SHOTS OF SOME SORT OF MEDICATICATION TO CALM US DOWN. THE MEDICATION THAT WAS GIVEN US WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR ADULTS ONLY. I WAS AT ON TIME KICKED DOWN CONCRETE STAIRS.AND TOLD THE NUN THAT IF SHE DID THIS TO ME AGAIN THAT I WOULD PULL THE VAIL OFF OF HER HEAD. SHE PROCEEDED TO RUN DOWN THE STAIRS AFTER ME AND I RAN. I WENT OUT THE BACK DOOR AND INTO THE COLD. SHE FOWLED ME AND LOCKED THE DOOR I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO FREEZE TO DEATH. I YELLED TO THE GIRLS UPSTAIRS AND WHEN THEY REALIZED WHAT WAS GOING ON, ONE OF THEM CAME DOWN AND UNLOCKED THE DOOR AND LET ME IN. I WAS ALSO BEATEN AT ONE TIME FOR SPEAKING DURING A MOVIE. I WAS ALMOST BEATEN INTO UNCONCIUSNESS. THE GIRL WHO WAS SITTING NEXT TO ME ASKED THE NUN TO PLEASE STOP HITTING ME. HER EXACT WORDS WERE"CAN'T YOU SEE YOUR KILLING HER. I WAS TAKEN TO THE INFIRMERY. THE GIRL WHO WITNESSED THIS WAS SANDY LAFOUNTAIN. I DON'T KNOW WHAT HERE NAME IS NOW. I WAS TOLD ONE DAY TO WAX THE FLOORS. SISTER SAID THAT SHE WAS GOING TO THE CHAPEL. SHE TOLD ME THAT WHEN SHE GOT BACK THAT THE FLOORS BETTER HAVE BEEN DONE AND AT THE SAME TIME SHE TOLD ME NOT TO BE AFRAID TO USE A LITTLE ELBOW GREASE. I WENT TO THE SUPPLY ROOM AND ILL BE DAMED BUT I COULDN'T FIND ONE CAN THAT SAID ELBOW GREASE. I DIDN'T DO THE FLOORS BECAUSE I KNEW WITHOUT THE ELBOW GREASE THAT I WAS GOING TO GET A BEATIING. WELL--NEEDLESS TO SAY I GOT THE MOST SEVERE BEATING. THIS IS SOME OF MY MEMORY OR ST.COLMANS HOME. IT WAS A TORTURE CHAMBER. THE BISHOP CAN DO ALL THE COVER UP HE WANTS,BUT GOD KNOWS.
A sweet face dotted with reddish brown freckles, framed the bright blue eyes that held only trust. Reflecting the innocence of his thoughts, Wally smiled in spite of the situation. The docile mannerism of this little boy confused me at first; I couldn’t understand why he stood so silently by in light of the troubling events that were being played out before him. I sadly discovered moments later that Wally was an autistic child, and he had just been abused by a young man who apparently had some degree of authority at St. Colman’s.
As some of you know, Barbara and I returned to the orphanage several years ago hoping to speak with the Sisters who were the primary caregivers during Barbara's childhood. At Barbara’s request, I attempted to pave the way for what we perceived would be a sensitive conversation. While I waited for one of the Sisters to meet with me, Barbara decided to walk around the grounds of the orphanage.
Only moments into my conversation with the attending nun, I realized the futility of my mission; it was denial in summation, with the standard “have your lawyers call our lawyers” response. I assured the nun that Barbara held no malice and was not seeking legal recourse. Before she could reply, Barbara burst into the office visibly shaken and stated “Susan you need to come with me now, a little boy is being abused” — I immediately followed her. After finding Wally and the young man in question, I insisted that he re-enact what Barbara had accidentally witnessed.
The young man consented, however, before he was able to do so, the nun I had been speaking with only moments earlier came running through the door. In spite of her presence, I was enlisted to serve in Wally’s place and Barbara demonstrated what she had seen. The young man admitted that he had handled the child in the manner shown, but the nun interjected in defense of his actions stating – that it was standard procedure when dealing with autistic children whose behavior was out of line. Barbara and I were horrified!!
Wally had been pushed face first into a tiled wall; his arms were forced above his head, pressed up against the wall criminal style, and his wrists were tightly constrained. The young man proceeded to place his hand on the top of Wally’s head and pushed down causing him to fall to his knees. He then jammed his knee into the back of Wally’s neck holding that position until Barbara shouted, “Stop, what are you doing to that little boy?” Throughout the actual abuse, re-enactment, and subsequent conversation that followed, Wally never uttered a single word.
Barbara and I left the orphanage and called the Autistic Association recounting the incident to one of their counselors. She was shocked and assured us that this was not an acceptable form of discipline for any child, especially an autistic child. The counselor encouraged us to place a complaint with the Child Abuse Hotline, which we did. We also went to a local newspaper and relayed the account, hoping it would lead to some investigative reporting. The reporter assigned to the case seemed genuinely saddened to inform us that due to our lack of evidence, there was nothing he could do. Apparently, an eyewitness account of Wally’s abuse was not sufficient. Several years have passed since this incident occurred and Barbara and I have never been able to let it rest in our hearts. We went to the orphanage that day seeking peace and resolve. We left with a deep sense of sorrow, anger, and defeat knowing that abuse was being perpetrated against autistic children. To this day we question whether our report of abuse was thoroughly investigated, and if so, what actions were taken on Wally’s behalf to insure his safety?
As mothers, we often wonder if Wally’s parents were ever informed as to the report we placed. We knew that Wally would never be able to tell them; he was so docile and would without fight submit to any kind of treatment. For many survivors of child abuse, time, circumstance, and a deep social slumber has served to silence the grief that is carried daily within the heart and mind of its victims. But now I believe the season is upon us; the time to speak has been born out of a purpose designed not of our own making, but a purpose designed by GOD. It is time for us to speak out on our own behalf and for all those who are not able, thus, helping to bring about change in the way crimes against children are viewed and dealt with by society. A healthy society depends on healthy children. If yesterday’s victims of child abuse demand that their voice be acknowledged today, the future will change for the better of our society. A child's life is in the power of our voices — Together, we can be the voice of the voiceless children; children like Wally.
So, to all I say, let us continue to speak of our memories born of injustice and let us do so in truth, pure motive, and love. If in speaking we find those who would ridicule or criticize us, attempting to dismiss our experiences as the imaginings of dysfunctional adults – let us understand that the light of love and understanding is sadly absent from their thoughts and spirits.