The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 15, 2013

Altoona-Johnstown diocese launches abuse investigation

ALTOONA — Facing several lawsuits, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown is conducting its own investigation into events surrounding allegations that a Franciscan friar sexually abused some Bishop McCort students in the 1990s and early 2000s.

“I can confirm that the diocese is conducting an investigation,” spokesman Tony DeGol said in an emailed statement.

“As for the status, I can tell you that it is ongoing.”

Baker died in late January of a self-inflicted stab wound to the heart at his residence in St. Bernardine Monastery near Hollidaysburg. He was 62.

He had been accused by more than 50 former McCort students of sexually molesting them while they were still in school.

The Bishop McCort board previously confirmed the school was conducting its own investigation.

That probe put McCort Principal Ken Salem on administrative leave on March 1. He was replaced by former Assistant Principal D.A. Gardill. No reason was given for the decision.

Meanwhile, the newly formed Friends and Family of Bishop McCort High School was launched to help the community deal with the Baker fallout while supporting Salem.

The school and diocese are named in lawsuits filed on behalf of alleged victims in Cambria and Blair County courts.

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