The Diocese of Youngstown has received a settlement request on behalf of 25 more purported molestation victims of Brother Stephen Baker, the Franciscan friar who worked at Warren John F. Kennedy High School from 1986 to 1991.
Atty. Mitchell Garabedian of Boston sent the diocese a letter dated Oct. 17, 2013, demanding $1 million for each claim. Baker’s order, The Third Order Regular Franciscans, received a similar letter with the same demand, the Diocese said in a news release.
“The Diocese of Youngstown will follow its standard pastoral practice in this matter, as it does in any allegation of child abuse,” the diocese said.
“First, at the recommendation of the predominately lay Diocesan Review Board, the diocese will investigate each claim. If any of the claims are found to be credible, the diocese will offer financial assistance for counseling.”
Additionally, Bishop George V. Murry will meet with any victim who wants to speak with him personally, the diocese said.
On Jan. 25, 2013, Bishop Murry wrote to 11 victims also represented by Garabedian after the diocese and the Franciscans settled with those victims. In that letter, Bishop Murry apologized for Brother Baker’s actions and offered to meet with them individually.
Brother Baker committed suicide Jan. 26, 2013, in a monastery in Pennsylvania.
On Jan. 31, 2013, to determine the extent of Brother Baker’s purported sexual misconduct and to offer the diocese’s assistance to any victims, Bishop Murry reached out via letter to more than 1,900 JFK alumni who were students during the time Brother Baker was on the faculty. Two people responded, the diocese said.
Brother Baker served as sports trainer, baseball coach and religion teacher at JFK.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain suffered by survivors of abuse due to the actions of some members of the church community,” Bishop Murry said in the news release. “The Diocese of Youngstown will continue to respond in a pastoral way to victims of child sexual abuse. In all we do, nothing is more important than protecting our children.”