Civil case of friar accused of sex abuse in 2 states will go forward in Pa. despite his suicide
The civil case alleging that a Franciscan friar sexually abused students at a western Pennsylvania high school will go on despite the friar’s suicide over the weekend, attorneys representing some of the accusers said Sunday.
Brother Stephen Baker, 62, was found dead of a self-inflicted knife wound at the St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg on Saturday, according to Blair Township police.
He had been named in recent legal settlements involving sexual abuse allegations at Warren John F. Kennedy High School three decades ago, and the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese said it had received allegations of abuse at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown in the 1990s.
When Baker was the school’s athletic trainer, 20 former students allege that he assaulted or molested students under the guise of providing therapeutic treatment or medical care for treatment of sports injuries, said Attorney Michael Parrish of Johnstown, who represents the accusers.
“Many of them did not realize until the stories began to break that what he was in fact doing to them was an assault or molestation, not actual therapeutic care,” Parrish said of his clients, who ranged in age from 14 to 18 at the time.
“He would treat these individuals for a hamstring injury and use that as an opportunity to physically grope them and do other things that constitutes a sexual assault under Pennsylvania law.”