Courtesy of Netflix

Teresa Lancaster Is Doing Admirable Work

by Megan Walsh

Netflix's The Keepers deals with some very sensitive subjects as it revisits the toxic environment at the Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore in the late '60s and early '70s. That was where Sister Cathy Cesnik was teaching when she discovered that many of her students were allegedly being sexually abused by two priests at the school, Father Joseph Maskell and Father Neil Magnus. Cesnik disappeared shortly after and was discovered dead just a few months later. The alleged abuse at Keough remained a secret for years until two former students filed a suit against Maskell and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, among others. One of those women was Teresa Lancaster. But what is Teresa Lancaster doing now?

It's important to know Lancaster's past before diving into her future. She was a junior at Keough when she claims Father Maskell began abusing her, as well as threatening her with violence if she spoke out. (Maskell denied initial accusations until his death in 2001. He was never accused of a crime by law enforcement.) She kept quiet until the mid-'90s, when another former student named Jean Wehner was building a case against Maskell; Lancaster made contact with Wehner's lawyers and was made a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit because of how credible her allegations were.

According to Lancaster, the abuse stunted her career growth. She had originally planned to attend medical school after graduating high school, but because of the trauma she had undergone, she felt lost and unable to do so. Instead, she put off her career aspirations and was married by 18, with four kids soon following. It wasn't until 20 years later, after beginning to come to terms with what happened to her, that Lancaster was able to jumpstart her career. She became an attorney and still practices in the Baltimore area.

Lancaster has also become an advocate for other survivors of childhood sexual abuse. As recently as 2015, she was reported to be working with victims through the national advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP). SNAP is a volunteer-run group whose members do everything they can to be present for survivors in need of assistance and support. And that isn't the only way Lancaster has used her personal experiences in a positive way: after her 1994 case had been thrown out due to a technicality regarding the statute of limitations, she testified in front of the Maryland State Legislature in support of a bill that extended the statute of limitations on civil sex abuse cases.

It was incredibly brave of Lancaster to share her story publicly and perhaps make other abuse survivors feel less alone. That she went on to become an advocate for victims is nothing short of inspiring.