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Group seeking investigation of Youngstown Diocese

Published: Wed, January 23, 2013 @ 12:10 a.m.

Grand-jury investigation sought of 6-county Catholic institution


Judy Jones member of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, speaks outside the Mahoning County prosecutor’s office Tuesday. Jones said SNAP has gotten new reports of sex abuse in the Youngstown Diocese.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



An advocacy group says allegations against Franciscan Brother Stephen P. Baker have prompted others to come forward with abuse claims against someone still working for the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is calling for any other victims to come forward and file police reports. SNAP also has asked Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains for a grand-jury investigation of the diocese, but Gains explained at a Tuesday meeting and news conference that victims must first go to civil authorities in the jurisdiction where any purported abuse took place before his office can get involved with a probe.

Judy Jones, a representative of the advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse, said two people have come to the organization claiming abuse by someone still working for the six-county diocese based in Youngstown.

She said the purported abuse took place years ago, but the recent stories about Baker motivated them to come forward.

“Since Baker’s name has been out there, there are more victims out there. They are calling in like crazy now,” Jones said during a news conference Tuesday. Baker taught, coached baseball and served as athletic trainer at Warren John F. Kennedy High School. Settlements have been reached with 11 of Baker’s alleged victims, who said he fondled teenagers age 14 to 18 from 1986 to 1990 in the school training room, elsewhere in the school and on trips outside of Warren.

Jones said two men have come forward alleging abuse by someone still employed in the diocese here, but she would not provide any names. She said one of the men is too sick to speak now but likely will come forward in the next week.

In the meantime, Jones said SNAP is asking that anyone who may have been a victim of sexual abuse to tell police. She said victims should go to police because the organization has no faith in the diocese to address the issue.

“We are urging any and all victims to file police reports no matter how long ago this happened. That way we can get it on record,” she said. “They [the church] know who these guys are. ... They are ignoring them.”

Jones said SNAP is calling on the bishop and the church to make the names of those accused of abuse public and properly protect children or future victims of abuse.

Nancy Yuhasz, chancellor and victim assistance coordinator, said there is no credible report of abuse against anyone working for the diocese.

“There is no one in ministry who has been credibly accused. And if there is someone out there who has been abused, we want them to contact the authorities and then contact us so that we can help,” she said.

The diocese is planning a Thursday morning news conference to address the issue.

Gains, too, is encouraging anyone who has been a victim of abuse to go to police so an investigation can begin.

“We need the victims to come forward with their allegations to authorities. ... I cannot conduct a grand jury investigation without victims going to the proper authorities,” said Gains.

According to SNAP, since 2002, there have been eight grand-jury investigations into six Catholic dioceses in the United States. Each report was highly critical of diocese officials, SNAP said.


1ulistenup(95 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Anyone can make an allegation. What about the concept of innocent until proven guilty? This lady obviously has an ax to grind and the Vindy gives her front page coverage. Ridiculous!

I understand that the Bishop is to make a public statement this week.

I hope the paper gives his response the same type of coverage as Ms. Jones got today.

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2nipsy(161 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I say where there is smoke there is often times fire. The Catholic Church is fully to blame for anything like this. After all they allowed abuse to go on for decades and in some cases enabled it.

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3UNCOMMONSENSE(626 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

If this lady has proof, she needs to produce it. The prosecuter commented last night that he needs victims in order to move forward with their allegations.

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4youngspartanrepublican(92 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I agree, where are the victims and what happened to the "innocent until proven guilty line?" Furthermore, these people are angry at our current bishop, but the lady has to know that these incidents happened 2 bishops ago.

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5walter_sobchak(2716 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I agree! We all have a constitutionally-guaranteed right enumerated in the sixth amendment that a defendant has to be directly confronted with witnesses against them. If they are calling in like crazy, get them on TV and have them state the allegation. I mean, this woman loves to get on camera and point the finger. I am not saying that some abuse hasn't gone on in all places where people are in authority but I think we have some people looking at a cash cow and grabbing the money. I can tell you that when I played football, if any man tried to fondle my taliwacker, he would have gotten belted in the teeth immediately, not 25 years later.

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6busyman(239 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

This group needs Jerry McGuire. It is all about Show me the Money. If there was no compensation tied to these cases, I wounder how many would come forward. I bet if would be a big "0".

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7steelwagon(284 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

It's all about the money.
You can bet there's a scumbag lawyer(s) just licking their chops knowing that the catholic church has deep pockets.

I wouldn't go as far as to say there was no wrong doing at all but you have to wonder why it's taken all these years for the so called victims to come forward.

And it seems funny that after there's been a payout to a few people suddenly others have decided to come forward and claim abuse as well.

If so many of these young boys were being abused at the same time why didn't any of them say anything while this was going on ?
As I understand it not one of them ever said a word to a parent,teacher,coach or anyone in authority....why ?

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8doubled(210 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

steelwagon blames it on the money but acknowledges the abuse allegations by saying - "I wouldn't go as far as to say there was no wrong doing at all..." and then promptly rips the victims and their advocates. Yeah, that makes sense??????????? You are clueless - you should try being more or a tough guy like sobchak -- yes, i'm sure 'ol sobchak was a real badass when he was 14. he would've put that sexually abusive priest, coach, teacher, authority figure, etc right in their place. for a guy that was so self-assured and tough at the age of 14 or 15, he should teach a course on how to be brave.

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9livingthroughit(1 comment)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

@walter_sobchak. I can't believe you think it is so easy that you just would have knocked their teeth in. You can say that because it never happened to you. Saying that is just another way to victimize the victim. I'm living through the aftermath of 30 years of suppressed memory. And it's not pretty. Come spend a day with my husband, live in my shoes for a day. Why don't they come forward?!?! How dare you! Do you know how hard it is for a young man to admit to that? How they feel they did they didn't fight back hard enough? Please! I have to agree with "doubled", you should teach a course in braveness. This is not a crime of anything other than power. We have not "lawyered up". It's not about the money! Coming forward is not easy. The hardest part is admitting it even happened is. My husband is still ashamed and feels guilty that he "didn't do enough". Guys are supposed to be macho, so how can they admit it. It's "macho men" like you that keep so many so quiet for so long. So yea, tell me again how you'd kick his teeth in and how we're just money hungry thieves.

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10kurtw(1823 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The other day I got a letter from an attorney about a Workers Comp case I filed years ago about an injured toe. I'd forgotten about it- it was no big deal- but the shyster told me I still had rights to "sue for damages" but "I had to act soon" as time was running out.

I also get trolling letters every day about "mesothelmia" and how I might be entitled to compensation if I worked in a company that used asbestos (the list is pretty broad).

This is no different. I spent 5 years in a Catholic school (I was never an altar boy) but I was with priests almost daily. If somebody sent me a letter and said- "Well, do you recall incidences of improper contact between you and the priest, anything at all- let us know- we are prepared to represent you".- well, if I was hard up at the moment for ready cash- and who isn't- I might say: "Wait a minute, there was Fr. Flanagan, years ago- he had me in his office to talk about my grades and then..."

You understand what I am getting at. It's called "recovered memory"- a technique used by psychiatrists in child abuse cases: you set a child down and you say: " Well, what did the babysitter or Uncle Joe do while you were sitting on his lap- did he touch you down there?" Nine times out of ten the child will agree because the whole scenario is set up that way.

The Roman Catholic Church is being set-up in the same way. It seems to me, that if you wait twenty years to report something- how serious or traumatic could it have possibly been?

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11kurtw(1823 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

for: livingthroughit" "30 years of repressed memory"

I can't believe that. What is there to repress? If we get assaulted or hurt by someone we go- within a reasonable period of time for help- to the Police or a Therapist- and if we don't- if we wait 20 years or so to make an accusation then we shouldn't be surprised if others doubt the veracity of our statement.

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12kurtw(1823 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The point is whenever an adult is privately with a child- he is a "sitting duck". For that reason if somebody wanted me to baby-sit their child- I probably wouldn't do it for fear of the legal repercussions.

Also, if I go into a men's room and a child is in there alone- I leave- I go in afterward. It sounds paranoid but, the point is, that an impressionable (and coached) child could say anything about me they wanted: "He exposed himself- he tried to fondle me, etc." And who the hell would believe me- just a dirty old man.

Priests are in the same position. Every priest who has ever been alone with a child is a "sitting duck" for a false accusation by a victim with "recovered" memory- aided and abetted by a mercenary shyster.

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13walter_sobchak(2716 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

doubled and livingthroughit,
Please, this has nothing to do with being macho. The problem in this country is we are raising a bunch of wussies that don't know how to properly handle themselves in tough situations. All that it takes for bad things to happen is for good men to do nothing. So, if I see someone doing wrong, I act appropriately, right now. That is exactly what happened at Penn State. Good men saw something bad happening and they only thought of themselves. I have a lot of trouble with someone having 30 years of repressed feelings. But, I don't have trouble believing that some are looking for an easy payday here.

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14doubled(210 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

99.9% of the time if you're not doing something wrong or creepy - then no one is going to bother investigating you. So kurtw - don't sweat it - no one is going to be asing you to babysit their kids any time soon. And c'mon walter, if you have trouble believing an abuse victim but no problem at all believing that they're just out for money, then the problem is yours, not society's

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