A deceased former religious sister has been added to the list of those who have worked in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and been found to have a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.
The allegation regarding the late Sister Susan Whitten is reported in a statement from the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ in Wednesday's issue of Today's Catholic, the diocese's weekly newspaper.
Whitten was a teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne in her last assignment before being dispensed from her vows in 1967, the statement said.
The person making the allegation was a member of the class of 1967 and accused Whitten “of engaging in an inappropriate relationship,” according to the statement. “Out of respect for the privacy of the individual who made this credible allegation, the Poor Handmaids will not say anything further regarding the allegation or the response to it.”
The statement also said the order is “saddened to hear of this abuse” and adds the safety and well-being of children “is of the highest importance to us.”
Julie Dowd, the order's communications director, told The Journal Gazette on Wednesday she did not know when Whitten joined the order or left it.
But Dowd said Whitten's leaving was “just her choice” and not the result of official discipline.
Dowd also said she would not disclose the gender or any information about the person making the allegation.
An online history of the Poor Handmaids lists Whitten as one of four of the order's sisters assigned to Dwenger as teachers when it first opened in 1963. A Poor Handmaids sister also was assigned as assistant principal.
Dwenger's principal at that time was the Rev. Edward Krason, who appears on the diocese's list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse with three allegations. He was ordered to cease ministry in 1999 and to cease presenting himself as a priest in 2003.
No women currently appear on the diocese's online list of the credibly accused.
The Poor Handmaids' statement says the order is “committed to responding to any allegation of abuse pastorally, with compassion and sensitivity to all those who may be affected.
“The Sisters' prayers go out to the individual who brought this allegation.”
A diocesan spokeswoman referred an inquiry to Dowd. Representatives of the diocese's office ministering to victims did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Anyone wishing to report abuse may contact Mary Glowaski, victim's assistance coordinator, at email@example.com or 260-399-1458, or the Rev. Mark Gurtner, vicar general, at 260-399-1422.