Survivors of St. Joseph’s abuse want Burlington Diocese to pay for counseling

Vermont

Survivors of the former St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington continue to seek justice for the abuse they endured at the hands of nuns and priests.

Restitution and amends is the goal of ‘Voices of St Joseph’s,’ former wards who are seeking reimbursement for years of counseling and treatment to address the lingering effects of physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

“It’s not their money,” said Maura LaBelle. “The state paid for services from them to love the children and take care of them. They didn’t do their job. That’s not their money, that’s our money. They need to go knock on that door and say give us their money, you didn’t do your job.”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington said Christopher J. Coyne has been meeting with survivors one on one and will continue to do so. In a statement, the Diocese said the help offered “is specific to them. If the person feels they would be helped through counseling, we would work with them as needed.”

Survivors say that’s not enough. Later in the day, the group met with Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

Donovan chaired a task force formed after allegations that children were murdered at the facility, which was shut down in 1974. The investigation closed late last year and concluded there was not enough evidence to support the allegations.

“All of us have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on counseling to try to recover from the damage the church has done to us and they’re fighting every bit of it,” said one former ward.

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