Woman sues Catholic Framingham high school, alleging abuse
A 55-year-old woman has sued her former teacher and coach at a Catholic high school in Framingham, alleging that she sexually abused her for nearly two years.
The woman, who filed the lawsuit anonymously, claims that Diane Ryszewski abused her from 1975 to 1977, her first two years at Marian High School. During the woman’s freshman year, Ryszewski arranged for her to live with her, the suit claims, and “engaged in continuous acts of sex abuse and rape.”
Administrators and teachers were aware that Ryszewski lived with the student, but “took no action to protect [her] or to end the relationship,” the suit claims.
In an interview Wednesday at the Boston office of her attorney, Carmen L. Durso, the woman said that her relationship with Ryszewski was common knowledge.
“The teachers knew, the kids knew,” the woman said. “That’s why I thought that there was nothing wrong with it.”
The woman suffers from long-term psychological trauma as a result of the abuse, according to the suit, which was filed in Suffolk Superior Court Tuesday. The suit also names the Archdiocese of Boston as a defendant and seeks unspecified damages.
A spokesman for the school and the archdiocese declined to comment on an ongoing legal matter. Ryszewski, who according to the lawsuit lives in North Carolina, could not be reached for comment.
Ryszewski, who was about 28 when the woman attended Marian High, taught physical and health education and was the coach of several girls’ sports teams, according to the lawsuit.
The woman said her relationship with Ryszewski began “probably 10 minutes into freshman year.” She moved into Ryszewski’s home in Hopkinton because of family issues, she said.
The woman said the abuse took place “under a very loving guise.”
“It’s not very hard to impress a 14-year-old,” she said. “I felt very special, but it was also kind of awkward.”
She dropped out of Marian High School after her sophomore year in an effort to end the relationship, but remained friends with Ryszewski for several more years, she said.
“It really derailed my life,” she said. “I lost a lot of opportunities that I never recovered and probably never will. I just don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”
The woman said she didn’t fully realize what had happened to her until 2015. Under the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of minors, alleged victims have up to seven years from the time they discover their injuries were caused by past abuse to file a civil suit.
“It takes a very long time to come to terms with victimization and recovery of that,” the woman said. “I really didn’t feel like a victim until I did some serious counseling.”
Durso said he has spoken with people who were at Marian High at the time who noticed an intimate relationship between Ryszewski and the woman.
“We believe that the high school, the principal, the archdiocese are all responsible for what happened because it was common knowledge,” Durso said.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests released a statement in support of the woman.
“We applaud this brave, wounded but strong woman who is taking action today to safeguard others and deter similar crimes and cover-ups now and in the future,” the release said.