Years after the death of her high school teacher, Gemma Hoskins became an educator. Gemma, now in her 60s, recently decided to re-examine her teacher’s disappearance, which uncovered cases of systemic abuse at Seton Keough High School in Baltimore, Maryland.
Gemma Hoskins and Alan Horn, a longtime advocate against child abuse, have been working together along with one of Gemma's former classmates, Abbie Schaub, to bring justice to victims who suffered abuse from the now-deceased priest, Joseph Maskell. To learn more about the story, check out the Netflix series The Keepers and find an interview with Gemma Hoskins and Alan Horn below.
"I'm using my 10 minutes of fame to talk about people who were hurt" - Gemma Hoskins
NEST: What’s important for people to know about the work you’re doing now?
Alan Horn: People who are abused have to tell. Secrets have been the power-tools of predators for generations. The incidents of false reporting by young children about sexual abuse is less than 1%, it is non-existent. So, when someone like a 9-year-old child comes to you and says “I’ve been hurt by somebody,” you need to believe them.
Gemma Hoskins: There’s a group of people who have done the right thing and told somebody. There are some rogue survivors of abuse that happened at (Seton Keough High School) - they were screaming for help, but nobody helped them. Now, I hope that people will start to listen.
Gemma, since you were a student at Keough, can you walk me through the experience of your understanding changing with regards to fellow students at the school being abused?
GH: I knew nothing about what was happening. When I think that physically, the width of a door was all that was separating me when walking down the hall from girls being drugged and hypnotized, and their lives being threatened at gunpoint, it blows my mind. Most of us knew nothing about this abuse.
I only started to hear about it during the early 1990s during the Doe/Roe v. Maskell case. I received a letter in the mail from Jean’s family asking if anyone had been abused. I knew nothing about what happened. We all got on the phone and started talking to each other. I believed it was true because there was no way that somebody is going to put themselves out there in public if this didn’t happen. They (Jane Roe and Jane Doe) were 40 by then. Why would they come forward if it wasn’t true?
What would be helpful for both the victim and investigator during the aftermath and reporting of a crime?
AH: Victims just have to tell. I’m talking to people now who are saying things like “I thought it was a dream” or “I’ve spent my whole life trying to convince myself it didn’t happen.” or “I haven’t told my wife.” They need to know that people will believe them. I talked to a man yesterday who has been abused and one thing he said is that everybody in the church knew what was going on.
My comment, forgive me it is aggressive, is that the people who need to come forward are those who have been betrayed. Not the “bad Catholics” but the “good Catholics” who are disgusted about what has been done to their religion. There’s got to be priests, church managers, maintenance people, who are active and want to take their religion back and set this straight. This is not the entire Catholic faith, this is just a few bad apples. There are some good Catholics out there who need to come forward and tell us what they know.
GH: We aren’t attacking Catholics, we’re attacking the institutions that allowed this to happen. The people involved aren’t all bad either and they refuse to talk because they won’t want to lose their pensions. If I could talk to the Pope, he could tell the Bishop in Baltimore to do was is right and release (the records documenting claims of abuse against Maskell). Somebody get me in to talk to the Pope!
What can people do who want to help?
AH: If people want to join our cause, they send an email to Gemma. (Find Gemma's contact info here)
GH: We vet people and Alan puts them on a team and gives them something to do. We have lawyers, doctors, retired cops, people all over the world who are helping. And, if you’re a victim, what you can do is tell somebody.
AH: Just tell someone. Tell your mother, sister, brother. It doesn’t matter who you tell, but that’s the first step towards healing.
GH: (repeating) Tell somebody.
Alan Horn has been volunteering for the past ten years for an organization that is dedicated to ending child abuse, you can donate to their work here: Stop the Silence.