The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 19, 2013

More McCort students may come forward, advocate says

JOHNSTOWN — As many as 15 former Bishop McCort students are alleging they were sexually abused more than a decade ago by a former instructor and sports trainer – and it may only be “the tip of the iceberg,” a victims’ advocate says.

Robert  M. Hoatson, co-founder and president of a nonprofit charity that has been advocating for the alleged sexual abuse victims of Brother Stephen P. Baker in Ohio and Johnstown, held a press conference Saturday across from Bishop McCort Catholic High School on Osborne Street in the city’s 8th Ward.

“I think there are probably around 15 (victims) at Bishop McCort, and there could be as many as a dozen more who have not come forward,” Hoatson said. “We suspect it’s the tip of the iceberg. The attorneys are getting calls from the west, south and middle part of the country.”

Hoatson said victims from Bishop McCort became known after they called the two attorneys involved with the case, Michael Parrish in Johnstown and Mitchell Garabedian in Boston.

Parrish said he has spoken to men who claim they  were victimized by Baker at McCort as recently as 2002. The former students say Baker abused them when he was supposed to be treating them for sports-related injuries.

Baker was employed at Bishop McCort from 1992 into the early 2000s.

Hoatson said he doesn’t see sexual abuse cases until the victims are in their 30s or 40s because they can’t come forward due to the shame and embarrassment.

“Catholics are taught deference to clergy,” Hoatson said. “Abuse is something that is lifelong. The abuser creates a tragedy as soon as it happens. The whole family is abused. When the victim’s children reach the same age they were when they were abused, they’re hyper-vigilant.”

Hoatson, who heads Road to Recovery Inc. based in Livingston, N.J., said he suffered similar sexual abuse when he was a teen. He founded the organization as therapy for himself.

“My therapist told me the best thing I could do is help other sexual abuse victims,” Hoatson said. “My salvation has been getting involved. I get so excited and energized because it takes amazing courage for them to talk about it in front of thousands through the media.”

Michael Munno of Lorain, Ohio, accompanied Hoatson on his trip to Johnstown.

For Munno, the trip is therapeutic. He is one of the 11 men from the Diocese of Youngstown who came forward to report alleged sexual abuse by Baker. The accused friar now resides at the Motherhouse of St. Bernardine Monastery of the Franciscan Friars Third Order Regular outside Hollidaysburg.

Munno, now 40, attended John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio, from 1986 to 1990, when Baker was an athletic trainer, coach and teacher there.

“I wouldn’t be able to do this without a support group,” Munno said.

Road to Recovery Inc. counsels sexual abuse victims and helps them through media sessions and press conferences.

“The attorneys do the legal stuff, but there’s so much more to recovery,” Hoatson said. “We help them pay for therapy, medications, food and shelter. The mantra I hear from sexual abuse victims is ‘I thought I was the only one.’”

Hoatson held another conference near JFK High School on Wednesday with two of the original 11 victims present.

At the conference, the settlement between the Diocese of Youngstown, the Franciscan Friars and JFK High School was revealed for the first time.

“It was made in October 2012,” Hoatson said. “There was no release of the amount the victims got, but it was in the high five figures.”

Hoatson said one of the Ohio victims is contemplating filing criminal charges because he was younger than the other victims at the time.

Road to Recovery requests that all alleged sexual abuse victims of Baker come forward confidentially to begin healing and receive support.

The organization will call on the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown to reveal what it knows and when it knew about Baker and accusations of sexual abuse against him from students and alumni of Bishop McCort.

Information: 862-268-2800.


Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • new councilman Judge fills City Council vacancy

    A lifelong Johnstown resident who has never sought election to public office was named Thursday to fill the vacancy on City Council.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cawley Lt. Gov. Cawley pushes jobs plan during Johnstown visit

    Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley got to see firsthand many of the training tools used by Hiram G. Andrews Center students on Thursday and took some time to promote a program called Jobs for All, part of Gov. Tom Corbett’s JOBS1st PA agenda.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • home VIDEO | Volunteers ‘blitz build’ replacement home for Upper Yoder man

    One week ago, Joey Varmecky had almost nothing.
    In October, a flue fire claimed his Swank Street home. That night, Varmecky, a deaf and partially blind man who doesn’t speak, showed up on the doorstep of his friend’s home. His feet were covered only by a pair of stockings.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Toomey & Shuster Bill would help identify unclaimed remains of veterans

    The cremated remains of an estimated 47,000 veterans are stored throughout the United States, sometimes in nothing more than nondescript metal canisters on shelves.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • million Lucky Seward man finds ticket to riches

    People often play the lottery and dream about the things they would do if they won the big one.
    That dream came true for Karl Kadi of Seward, who won $1 million on a $20 Max-A-Million scratch-off lottery ticket.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farrish, James State police make another drug bust on turnpike

    A Pittsburgh man was jailed Thursday after state police said they found about $120,000 in suspected heroin during a traffic stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sisco, Ryan James & John Patrick Two brothers charged in beating at bar

    Two Johnstown brothers were jailed Wednesday after police said they beat a man so badly he suffered a concussion and may end up blind in one eye.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • path of flood Path of Flood entries due

    Anyone interested in participating in Johnstown Area Heritage Association’s  Path of the Flood Historic Half Marathon and 5K race will need to get in gear before the April 30 registration deadline.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drilling fees should fund education, Democrats say

    Democrats running for governor seem to be competing to convince voters they will dip deepest into the pockets of gas drillers to replace $1 billion that Gov. Tom Corbett has cut from education spending.

    April 17, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/18/2014

    April 17, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads