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Civil case of friar accused of sex abuse in 2 states will go forward in Pa. despite his suicide

Published: Sun, January 27, 2013 @ 5:18 p.m.

Civil case of friar accused of sex abuse in 2 states will go forward in Pa. despite his suicide

Associated Press


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.”


1JudyJones(157 comments)posted 2 years, 5 months ago

Statement by Judy Jones of St. Louis, Midwest Assistant Midwest Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 974 5003, snapjudy@gmail.com)

Accused serial child molesting cleric Br. Stephen Baker is apparently dead, according to Catholic officials. http://www.wkbn.com/content/news/loca...

We feel sad for Br. Baker's family but even sadder for the dozens of boys who Baker assaulted. His passing changes little, however. It's still crucial that anyone who saw, suspected of suffered his crimes comes forward.

Kids are safest when clergy sex crimes and cover ups are exposed, and that's still what needs to happen here. Kids are also safest when those who ignored or hid child sex crimes are held responsible for their irresponsible behavior. And kids are safest when officials are deterred from concealing child sex crimes. That happens best when officials who HAVE concealed child sex crimes are punished.

We believe it's possible that corrupt Catholic officials who concealed Baker's crimes might be prosecuted - for intimidating witnesses, obstructing justice, destroying evidence, deceiving police, committing perjury or other wrongdoing. So we renew our call for prosecutors to use their bully pulpits and investigative powers to delve into the heinous - and we believe continuing - complicity of Catholic officials in child sex cases.

It's possible that if Catholic officials had acted with more compassion, suspended Baker sooner, monitored him better, and gotten him more help sooner, that he might still be alive.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, jcasteix@gmail.com), Judy Jones 636-433-2511, snapjudy@gmail.com)

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