Youngstown Diocese says 2 JFK alumni alleging abuse
The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown says two men alleging they were victims of Brother Stephen Baker while they were students at Warren John F. Kennery High School have come forward to the diocese in the past two weeks.
The diocese issued a news release saying that a man called Feb. 28, saying he was abused by Brother Baker during the time he was a student at JFK. The man, who requested anonymity, said he “wants only to set the record straight and wants neither counseling nor compensation but would like to meet with Bishop Murry.”
The bishop has agreed to meet with the man, but the meeting has not yet been arranged.
Baker, a Franciscan friar who served as sports trainer, baseball coach and religion teacher at JFK from 1986 to 1991, committed suicide Jan. 26 in Hollidaysburg, Pa.
On March 4, a letter was sent to Bishop Murry from an attorney who says he represents a victim of Brother Baker and a victim of Robert Burns, a former Youngstown priest who was convicted in 1996 in New Hampshire of aggravated felonious sexual assault on a child.
Burns was a priest in the Youngstown Diocese from 1975 to 1981, when a sexual-abuse complaint from a young boy prompted his removal from St. Rose Parish in Girard, according to Vindicator files.
Burns had worked at parishes in the Youngstown area and in North Canton.
Vindicator files also say a man filed a lawsuit in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court in 2002 against Burns, St. Rose Parish in Girard and the diocese, alleging he had been sexually abused by Burns starting in 1979 when he was a 12-year-old altar server at St. Rose.
The lawsuit was settled out of court in 2007, according to Mahoning County Common Pleas Court records.
Because the alleged victim who contacted the diocese March 4 is represented by legal counsel, the diocese cannot comment further on the allegation, the diocese said in the news release.
On Feb. 25, the Diocese reported that 1,800 letters to former JFK students and interviews with some of the school’s former teachers turned up no additional indications of abuse at JFK besides the 11 men who reached a financial settlement that had been announced in January.
Baker’s death came not long after a news conference in Braceville Township in which two men discussed the sexual abuse they suffered that led to the settlement.
The 1,800 letters asked anyone who experienced sexual misconduct on the part of Brother Baker, or anyone associated with the church, to notify civil authorities, the Franciscans and the Diocese of Youngstown.