The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 18, 2013

5 former Bishop McCort students allege sexual abuse, published report says

JOHNSTOWN — Upwards of a half dozen male students at Bishop McCort Catholic High School may have been sexually abused by a Franciscan friar during the 1990s into the early 2000s with growing concern that the abuse may be far more reaching.

According to published reports out of Ohio, at least five former Bishop McCort students say they were molested by Franciscan friar Stephen P. Baker at different times during the decade he was at the school as a religion teacher and sports trainer.

News about Baker, who worked at the Johnstown Catholic high school for about a decade beginning in 1992, surfaced Wednesday out of court settlements with 11 former students from John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio, were announced.

On Thursday, Bishop Mark L. Bartchak of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown issued a statement that he had been notified of Baker’s alleged misconduct in late 2011, but it was unclear if the abuse had involved Bishop McCort students.

A Johnstown attorney contacted by an unrevealed number of McCort students said today that they were abused by Baker under the guise of athletic training or treatment for injuries.

Attorney Michael Parrish said it is too early in the investigation to estimate numbers of victims or the potential for criminal prosecution.

“I can tell you that I believe that there are a lot more than five,” Parrish said.

See Saturday’s Tribune-Democrat for additional information.

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