Report: Nuns Allegedly Killed Children at Catholic Orphanage in Vermont

Explosive Buzzfeed profile details accusations of abuse at St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington.

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Buzzfeed News reports that more than five million Americans passed through orphanages in the 20th century alone. At its peak in the 1930s, the American orphanage system included more than 1,600 institutions. They were partly  supported with public funding but more frequently run by religious institutions, including the Catholic Church.

In 1996, 28 former residents of St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington, Vermont brought a lawsuit against the nuns, the diocese and the social agency that oversaw the institution. The deposition, which Buzzfeed reviewed, included stunning allegations: People who grew up in orphanages said they were forced to kneel or stand for hours, sometimes holding items or required to keep their arms straight out. Others were hung upside down from windows, in wells, or in laundry chutes. Children were allegedly locked in cabinets, closets or attics for days. They were sexually abused. They were mutilated. But Buzzfeed writes, darkest of all, is the history of children who are alleged to have never made it out of the orphanages alive.

Buzzfeed investigated the American Catholic orphanage system, gathering stories from former residents who told of these deaths, which they said were not natural or accidents but “instead the inevitable consequence of the nuns’ brutality.”

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