MI - Serial predator cleric worked near Detroit

  • Serial predator worked near Detroit
  • He committed suicide on Saturday in PA
  • More than 80 kids say he molested them
  • Eleven settlements were just disclosed last week
  • Church officials in four states concealed allegations
  • SNAP: “How many other child molesting clerics are still hidden?”
  • Group asks challenges local archbishop: “Come clean re secret deals here”

WHAT
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and their supporters will disclose that a recently “outed” and credibly accused child molesting cleric worked in Detroit Archdiocese for three years. He killed himself on Saturday and has allegedly assaulted at least 80 children in two states. The group will urge Detroit Catholic officials to

--explain why they’ve been secret about accusations against and settlements involving the cleric,

--disclose whether he’s allegedly molested any Michigan kids, and

--start aggressively seeking out others in Michigan who he may have molested.
They will also

--urge victims, and whistleblowers to contact secular authorities, not church officials, and

--beg anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered clergy crimes in Detroit (by this cleric or others) to come forward, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.

WHEN
Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 1:00 p.m.

WHERE
Outside the Detroit Archdiocese headquarters (“chancery office”), 1234 Washington Blvd. in Detroit, MI

WHO
Two or three members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, including the organization’s Detroit area leader

WHY
SNAP has learned that a credibly accused child predator who committed suicide on Saturday worked for three years in the Detroit Archdiocese. He’s Franciscan Brother Stephen P. Baker who was assigned to a Catholic school - St. Mary's Prep in Orchard Lake - from 1983-1985.

No Catholic official has disclosed, despite the fact that Baker has been in the news a lot lately – first because 11 settlements against him were just disclosed, then because dozens more victims stepped forward, and finally because he took his own life last weekend.

SNAP believes there is a good possibility that Baker abused kids in the Detroit area.

Catholic figures claim the first accusations against Baker surfaced in 2009 in the Youngstown area. (SNAP believes other victims likely came forward long years earlier.) No church officials however, made the allegations public.

Five months ago, the 11 men settled with the Youngstown diocese and Baker’s direct supervisors, the Franciscans. Again, no church officials made this public.

Then, on Jan. 16, an attorney for victims disclosed the settlements.

Since then, another 69 individuals have reported being victimized by Baker. Many come from the Altoona-Johnstown diocese in Pennsylvania. (Baker worked at Bishop McCort High in Johnstown.)

On Jan. 26, Baker committed suicide at St. Bernardine Monastery in Blair County, PA.

SNAP wants Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron to 1) explain why he hid accusations against and/or settlements involving Baker, 2) disclose whether Baker allegedly molested in the Detroit area, and 3) use his archdiocesan website, archdiocesan newspaper, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered Baker’s crimes to come forward.

"Why has Detroit’s archbishop been silent for years about Baker’s presence in his archdiocese, especially since Baker has obviously hurt so many kids," says Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director."

SNAP says such silence violates the US bishops’ national abuse policy which mandates “openness and transparency” in clergy sex cases. It also “gives wrongdoers like Baker and his complicit church supervisors ample opportunity to intimidate victims, threaten whistleblowers, discredit witnesses, destroy evidence and fabricate alibis,” SNAP leaders argue.

The group also says Vigneron has refused to warn his flock about three other troubled clerics who have recently returned to the Detroit area: Fr. Thomas D. Williams, Fr. Richard James Kurtz, and Fr. Maurice G. McNeely. The former is accused of sexually exploiting an adult, the latter two are accused of molesting kids. (See BishopAccountability.org)

About 80 people have now alleged abuse against Baker during his time at the two schools, according to news accounts. Most of his Ohio victims are represented by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian (617-523-6250, 866-345-2214, garabedianlaw@msn.com). Some of Baker’s Pennsylvania victims are represented by Altoona attorney Richard Serbin (814-944-6111, rms@serbinlaw.net).

Baker also sometimes went by the name of Paul Stephen Baker. In Youngstown, he was a religion teacher, sports trainer and baseball coach. It’s not clear what Baker’s role was at St. Mary’s. Proof of Baker’s presence in the Detroit archdiocese can be found in the Official Catholic Directory and at BishopAccountability.org

St. Mary’s headmaster is James M. Glowacki, 248-683-0531 – office, 248-755-6372 - cell jglowacki@stmarysprep.com.

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