The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

February 5, 2013

Records show Baker abuse settlement in Minnesota

JOHNSTOWN — The nationwide victims’ advocacy group attempting to cobble together information on the adult life of the late Brother Stephen Baker said Tuesday it has uncovered a victim dating back to the late 1970s.

Judy Jones of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the group has uncovered a court settlement showing Baker sexually abused a boy in 1977 while Baker worked in Minnesota.

Baker, who was a Franciscan friar, was working for the St. Paul/Minneapolis Archdiocese between 1978 and 1981.

The victim was in the eighth grade at the time of the alleged abuse and the diocese in 2005 reached an out-of-court settlement with him, Jones said.

SNAP has been tracking Baker’s background since the early January announcement that 11 Ohio men who allegedly were sexually molested by Baker in the late 1980s and early 1990s had reached an out-of court-settlement with the Catholic Diocese of Youngs-town.

Word of that announcement prompted several dozen men to contact lawyers in this area and in Massachusetts, claiming they had been molested by Baker while they were students at Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown.

Baker, 62, lived at Franciscan homes since the early 2000s, committed suicide at St. Bernardine Monastery outside Hollidaysburg.

He worked at Bishop McCort, which at the time was operated by the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, as a religion instructor and in the athletic department where much of the abuse allegedly occurred.

Jones said Tuesday that as many as 69 individuals have alleged abuse by Baker, most of them former Bishop McCort students.

SNAP is calling on bishops from all dioceses where Baker worked to encourage victims to come forward.

“There have been so many allegations against Baker that it’s almost impossible to believe that there is only one victim in Minnesota,” SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy said in an email.

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