A Grand Island woman on Thursday accused a nun of sexually abusing her with a crucifix more than 60 years ago at a convent in Snyder.
J. Carroll Becker said the nun used the crucifix as punishment after Becker wet her pants at a classroom desk in 1955, when she was five years old.
"She told me it would cure me of defiling God's property," Becker said.
Becker, 68, told the story of the alleged abuse at a news conference on the sidewalk outside Christ the King School on Main Street in Snyder. She was accompanied by Robert Hoatson and James Faluszczak, former priests who now advocate on behalf of victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Hoatson described the abuse as "horrific" and "beyond the pale."
A spokeswoman for the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany confirmed that the congregation of nuns was investigating the allegation.
"The Franciscan Sisters are aware of the allegation against a former member of the organization," said the spokeswoman, Denise Bunk-Hatch. "We're continuing to investigate the matter."
Bunk-Hatch said the accused nun left the congregation in 1981 and is deceased.
Becker said she called the Buffalo Diocese in April to report the alleged abuse and met in May with Sister Margaret Mary Kimmins, congregational minister of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany.
Kimmins declined to comment Thursday and referred questions to Bunk-Hatch.
Becker's accusation comes as the Buffalo Diocese grapples with a scandal over the cover-up of clergy sexual abuse dating back decades. A retired priest's admission to The News in February that he had molested probably dozens of boys during his stints at multiple parishes in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s led to revelations of multiple other clergy sex abuse cases.
Becker is the first person to publicly accuse a nun of sexual abuse in the Buffalo Diocese.
Becker said the alleged abuse happened after the nun yelled at her in class for not answering when her named was called. Becker's first name is Jane, but she has always gone by her middle name, Carroll, because her mother's name also was Jane Carroll and her mother was known as Jane. So she didn't respond when the nun called out for Jane.
Becker became so terrified when the nun confronted her that she wet her pants on three occasions, she said. Twice, the nun sent her home to get changed. But a third time it happened, the nun grabbed the girl's arm and took her to the convent, where she ordered the girl to remove her underpants and then used the crucifix to punish her, according to Becker.
The sexual abuse happened just the one time, said Becker. After the incident, Becker said her mother spoke with the superior of the congregation. Becker said the accused nun, from then on, called Becker by the name "Carroll," but continued to be mean to her.
"Grammar school was a nightmare for me here," she said.
Becker said she has dissociative identity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and physical injuries as a result of the alleged abuse.
Becker said Kimmins told her in June that the congregation would pay for "short-term counseling" in Buffalo, but would not provide compensation for the alleged abuse.
Becker said the offer was not satisfactory.
"I want to reclaim my power and I want to get some justice done," she said.