The Keepers starts with an unsolved murder but is really about something bigger. White’s initial contact was Jean Hargadon Wehner, who had attended Archbishop Keough as a teen and had a startling insight into the Cesnik case. In 1969, before the police discovered Sister Cathy’s corpse, she’d been taken to see it by Father Joseph Maskell, the school chaplain – a gross act of intimidation designed to discourage her from revealing that Maskell had repeatedly raped her in his office. Sister Cathy had promised Wehner and other Keough girls that she would help them.
Wehner didn’t just keep quiet: she repressed every memory of the abuse until 1992, when a chance meeting with an old classmate unlocked her past. The Keepers becomes extremely harrowing when, being interviewed by White at her dining table, Wehner describes what happened in Maskell’s room – she’s fiercely dignified one minute, then crumpling the next as the pain overwhelms her. “I was really compelled by Jean,” says White. “She was the first person who ever spoke up. She thought she was doing the right thing by outing an abuser in her community. Instead, everyone turned against her.”