The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 12, 2013

Fourth alleged victim in Bishop McCort case comes forward

EBENSBURG — A Greensburg attorney has filed a notice in Cambria County court listing a fourth victim of alleged sexual abuse by Brother Stephen Baker at Bishop McCort, and she provided more specific information about one of the defendants named.

Meanwhile, attorney Susan Williams told The Tribune-Democrat on Tuesday that she has been contacted by someone she would name only as a male from Mount Aloysius College.

She provided no additional information whether the contact was sexual, Baker’s involvement or the age of the individual who contacted her.

“I will say I was contacted by someone from Mount Aloysius,” she said.

Baker, 62, a Franciscan friar, died Jan. 26 of a self-inflicted knife wound to the chest.

Allegations against Baker surfaced in early January by former students of Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown, where the friar taught and worked in the athletic department from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.

The Tribune-Democrat reported Saturday that Baker volunteered as a baseball scorekeeper at Mount Aloysius from 2007 to early 2011.

In a statement issued by the Cresson Township college, officials said last week that they had conducted investigations and did not find any abuse perpetrated by Baker at the college.

In an email statement Tuesday, college officials reiterated that position.

“The college did its investigation and did not find any abuse perpetrated here by Baker,” the statement says. “Mount Aloysius College remains committed to continuously investigating any and all allegations of abuse that are brought to our attention.”

The college is urging anyone who may have been abused or has knowledge of any abuse to contact law enforcement or victim services.

“We continue to be dismayed that the college was never informed of previous allegations regarding the late Brother Baker,” the statement said.

Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan said Tuesday that she received a letter from Mount Aloysius on Feb. 4 telling her of Baker’s work at the college.

She spoke with college officials on Friday, and they assured her they had met with baseball players who were at the school at the time Baker volunteered.

Nothing has been reported to her by any police departments regarding any victims who may have come forward, she said.

Meanwhile, Williams’ most recent filing in Cambria County court this week includes an unnamed fourth victim from Bishop McCort and lists Province of the Immaculate Conception of the Franciscan Friars as a defendant.  

This latest notice of a civil lawsuit comes three weeks after Williams filed a notice to sue for unnamed clients listed as Victims No. 1, 2 and 3.

In that notice, known as a writ of summons, Williams named Bishop McCort Catholic High School, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, the Youngstown (Ohio) Diocese and the Third Order Regular Franciscans as defendants.

“That was filed when we did our initial filing and we named the wrong group of Franciscans,” she said.

In early January, former students of Bishop McCort began alleging sexual misconduct on behalf of Baker after a civil settlement emerged between 11 former students of the John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Warren, Ohio, and the Youngstown Diocese.

Baker lived at two Franciscan homes in the Hollidaysburg area from 2000 to early 2013.

He was a resident and cook for St. Bernardine Monastery, about two miles south of Hollidaysburg, at the time of his suicide.

No criminal charges were filed against Baker prior to his death and no criminal charges have been filed against those in supervisory roles who may have been aware of Baker’s action and failed to contact authorities.

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