The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 24, 2013

Lawsuits likely: Attorney for alleged victims files notice



Attorney’s statement

It is my understanding, based upon what my clients have told me, that Brother Stephen Baker was head athletic trainer and a teacher of religion at Bishop McCort High School.  

My clients have revealed a significant amount of detail of the severity, pervasiveness and open nature of the abuse which they suffered at the hands of Brother Baker.

By virtue of his position of power, Brother Stephen was able to carry out his abuse without interference.

It is also my understanding that despite the open nature of his behavior, a number of teachers and administrative employees who are required by law to report such acts to authorities, failed to rectify the situation over a substantial period of time.

Based upon what I’ve heard from my clients, I anticipate that possibly hundreds of individuals may have been victimized by Brother Baker.

Susan N. Williams, esquire

Bishop McCort opens investigation

The Board of Trustees of Bishop McCort High School released the following statement Thursday night regarding allegations against Brother Stephen Baker:

The non-diocesan members of the Board of Trustees of Bishop McCort Catholic High School first became aware of the misconduct allegations against Brother Stephen Baker late last week. At the time of Brother Baker’s tenure with Bishop McCort, the school was a part of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and since that time has undergone privatization. Upon such notification, the board immediately ordered a voluntary internal review and investigation of the misconduct allegations, hiring Ms. Kathleen A. Gallagher and Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott (Eckert Seamans) to conduct the investigation.

Bishop McCort understands that sexual assault victims face tremendous trauma and that it can often take years after the incident for them to report the assault. Any victims of such a horrific event must be embraced, counseled, and comforted in their time of pain. Bishop McCort High School is a Catholic family of educators, students, and alumni; and we stand together in unity with any victims of abuse.

Although Bishop McCort is now a private institution and no longer operated by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, the school is committed to ensuring that it is the safest, most conducive educational environment for its students and families. The Bishop McCort family is committed to helping each and every student, family and parishioner associated with the school develop spiritually, morally and emotionally as a child of God. The effort launched today by the school is an attempt to help any victims of abuse associated with these allegations receive a level of closure and resolution to this painful chapter of their lives.

Kathleen A. Gallagher has 30 years of legal experience providing counsel on complex litigation and internal investigations, both in private practice and formerly as a prosecutor with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office. Specifically, Ms. Gallagher prosecuted numerous sexual assault cases and thus brings a unique understanding of both the law and unique circumstances surrounding such cases. Ms. Gallagher is a member of Eckert Seamans and is resident in both the Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. offices of the firm.

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