'The Keepers' (Ep. 3): Covering Up The Cover Up

"This is not just a story, this really happened."

By Eric Shorey

Episode 3 of Netflix's true crime doc starts with Jean Hargadon Whener, the Jane Doe who came forward with startling accusations against the administrators at Archbishop Keough High School. “This is not just a story, this really happened,” she says as she lights a candle.

Doe remembers being taken to the body of Sister Cathy as an intimidation tactic to keep her from coming forward, with the abuses she suffered growing increasingly horrendous. Doe maintains she completely buried the memories for two decades before they arose again – she had created a completely normal life with no recollection of her trauma for 20 or so years. Interviews with Whener's family reveal a semi-idyllic upbringing in Baltimore and an inclination towards religiosity. In the early 90's, Wehner has a chance encounter with a former Keough high school student who asks her to come to a class reunion. Wehner reports experiencing extreme discomfort, although she couldn't explain why. While praying on her confusion later, she slowly began recalling the abuse she detailed in episode 2.

Whener talks about the denial she dealt with while she recovered these deeply repressed memories – and the antecedent guilt about not reporting it. Jean attempted to inform various pastors about the abuse. They begin to build a case against the abusive administration, with Jean eventually making a formal statement to the Archdiocese. They asked Jean to find another student who faced abuse to corroborate on her story. Not only couldn't she, she was also unwilling to ask anyone to re-live their trauma. Whener brought forward more names of potential abusers, but the archdiocese refuses to cooperate until someone else comes forward with allegations – they're baseless otherwise.

Back to our intrepid adorable lady investigators, Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub, who claim that they really had no clue about the sexual abuse going on at their school behind closed doors. They reveal that Maskell, the priest Doe is accusing of serious atrocities, had been moved around to various high schools. After Jean's confessions, Maskell was transferred to a facility that would help treat Catholic priests who were in crisis. Over time, employees of the facility were quite shocked to learn that many of the priests sent to this program were not coming with regular mental health issues but were sent in order to deal with their history of sexual abuses against children. The facility demanded that churches sending priests to them give full reports on potential patients. At this point, the church ceases their communications with the facility.

Misinterpreting her remembrances, Whener admits to her family the entirety of the situation with the Archdiocese which she had been keeping a secret and also tells them she was the one who killed Sister Cathy. Eventually, through deep contemplation and reflection, she pieces together the mystery of her memories. She goes forward to the police who seem to not believe her story whatsoever. Despite that, they re-open the investigation but seem more annoyed than interested in actually solving the murder. Similarly, the archdiocese seemed to be stonewalling reporters looking into the situation.

Maskell is eventually placed back in a church, dismissing Jean's testimony as “hysterical nonsense.” Jean's family begins to take matters into their own hands: they start looking for other potential victims of Maskell. Unsurprisingly, their searching turns up at least one other victim, revealing some particularly horrific narratives of sexual abuse as well. Maskell had told this victim's family that she was schizophrenic, leading her to be drugged for extensive periods of time and preventing her from having any accusations taken seriously.

Letters began pouring in to Hargadon's family and her lawyers about the extensive abuse that went on at the school. Many of the narratives shared frighteningly similar details about gynecological examinations and various other town officials' involvement in the situation.

As disparate investigations converge, certain players begin receiving threats. How deep does this thing really go?

[Photo: Screenshot from Netflix]

Related Stories

Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content. 

You May Also Like...
Recommended by Zergnet