The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 22, 2013

Baker probe moves ahead

EBENSBURG — A criminal investigation into who may have been aware of the alleged sexual abuse of students at Bishop McCort High School by Brother Stephen Baker and failed to alert authorities moved a step forward this week.

Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan told The Tribune-Democrat that she met with members of the staff of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The focus of the meeting was to determine what information the attorney general’s office will need if it agrees to accept the investigation into who knew what and when, she said.

“We want to make sure we provide the information they need to move forward,” Callihan said.

Latest figures provided to The Tribune-Democrat show that more than 80 students, mostly males, allegedly were sexually molested by Baker, a Franciscan friar who worked at the school from 1992  to about 2001.

However, sources say he was around the school and students for four or five years after he was no longer employed as a religion instructor or part of the athletic staff.

It was during his duties in the locker room working with injured athletes that most of the abuse is alleged to have occurred.

Callihan contacted the state’s top prosecutor several weeks ago to inquire into a multi-county investigation.

While Baker worked at McCort, notice of pending lawsuits have been filed in Cambria and Blair counties by attorneys representing some of the alleged victims.

Named in the lawsuits is the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, whose headquarters is in Altoona.

The diocese was in charge of Bishop McCort and its staff until 2008, when it became independent, and has since been operated by a board of directors.

People in positions of authority have fallen under the state’s mandatory reporting laws for nearly 25 years, and indications are that authorities were not notified of Baker’s actions until 2011, when a couple of alleged victims contacted the Johnstown Police Department.

Incidents of abuse by Baker were revealed in January after it was reported that the diocese in Youngstown, Ohio, reached an out-of-court settlement with 11 of his victims.

Baker was at JFK High School in that area prior to moving to Pennsylvania.

This week, it was reported that the Youngstown diocese had received a settlement request for about 25 victims of Baker who are just now stepping forward.

Baker died in late January at the age of 62, in what has been termed by the Blair County coroner’s office as a suicide.

Kathy Mellott cover the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Flower2 Flowers' color doesn't have to fade

    Those pots of bright yellow daffodils, Easter lilies and hyacinths gracing the home this weekend do not have to end up in the trash bin when the blooms start to fade.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Refinancing could lower Richland School District's debt by $2.2M

    When Richland School District borrowed funds for its high school project a decade ago, board members circled “2014” on their calendars as a likely first option to refinance the debt.

    April 20, 2014

  • Pipeline to carry shale byproducts

    An 8-inch transmission line crossing Pennsylvania, including four municipalities in Cambria County, is being repurposed to carry some of the by-products from Marcellus and Utica shale production.

    April 20, 2014

  • Judge Creany, Timothy Vets courts gain support

    Signs of success are mostly anecdotal in Pennsylvania’s special courts for veterans, but judicial officials and lawmakers are so convinced of the program, they’re lobbying to expand it.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • pow21 Person of the Week: ‘I wanted to help’: Teen uses birthday to show love for children, animals

    Anastasia Machik’s love for children and animals inspired her to forgo her birthday gifts for the sake of the two.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Students taking steps to call attention to child abuse

    An upcoming community walk will help raise awareness of child abuse.

    April 20, 2014

  • In brief: PennDOT reports weekly work schedule

    April 20, 2014

  • District Deaths April 21, 2014

    April 20, 2014

  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014

Poll

Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads