CMP Marianist Retreat - File Photo.jpg

The Marianist Family Retreat Center, in Cape May Point.

NOTE: Please consider a digital subscription or contribution. For more coverage, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

CAPE MAY POINT - A second woman June 4 filed a lawsuit, in Cape May County Superior Court, against the Marianist Family Retreat Center, in Cape May Point, where she alleges she was molested, as a 12-year-old, from 1978-1979.

The new suit (https://bit.ly/3qjPo0V) identifies the plaintiff as Jane Doe SC, and says she attended Bible study classes at the center with other local girls. 

The complaint claims that during the classes, the girls would be instructed to lay on the floor with their eyes closed to try to meditate, and during the meditation sessions, the Rev. John J. Sheehan tapped the plaintiff on the shoulder and communicated she should leave the room with him quietly. It's alleged he touched her breasts, reached into her pants and digitally penetrated her.

Sheehan was the director of the center at the time.  

The complaint claims the plaintiff was sexually abused by Sheehan on other occasions, as well.  

A similar lawsuit (https://bit.ly/3wRoZKl) was filed in January against Sheehan and brother Al Koch, for allegedly assaulting another girl, Jane Doe RP, at the same location, in much the same way, in 1974, when she was 14.

According to its website (https://bit.ly/35xeNdK), the center is operated in partnership with the St. Louis-based Marianist religious order (also known as the Society of Mary). The center, which has operated for 50 years, reportedly hosts hundreds of children and families every year.

Two Catholic institutions, the Archdiocese of Baltimore (https://bit.ly/2SbAahK) and the Marianists(https://bit.ly/3gz318Z), declared Sheehan to be “credibly accused” of abuse. 

Sheehan was formally laicized (defrocked) in 1997, according to both institutions’ websites.

In a previous Herald report (https://bit.ly/3xxULfe), Patrick Noaker, an attorney representing Jane Doe RP, said he believed Sheehan died, and Koch was “removed” from the center late last year (2020). 

When contacted, a Marianist spokesperson said it was not their policy to comment on matters while litigation is pending.

Get 'The Wrap', a new way to get the news.

We wrap up the news from the Shore you love, and deliver it to your inbox, weekly.

Load comments