A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is blasting Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Mark Leonard Bartchak over what they call his "continued secrecy and deception" in the case of a credibly accused Catholic cleric.
Leaders of SNAP have discovered that Br. Stephen P. Baker – who is accused of molesting dozens of boys in Ohio and Pennsylvania - has also worked in Michigan and Virginia, a fact that Altoona-Johnstown church officials have kept hidden in recent discussions of Baker's history.
"Any official with real compassion would want every victim of Baker - no matter where they live or where they were hurt - to get help," said Judy Jones, SNAP's Midwest Associate Director. "How can Bartchak justify telling only part of the truth. There's only one reason he'd keep quiet at this point about other places Baker works: he wants to continue protecting other corrupt Catholic officials and prevent other suffering victims from stepping forward."
Today, outside the Detroit Archdiocesan headquarters, SNAP members are holding a news conference. They’re calling on the archbishop there to reach out to others who "saw, suspected or suffered" crimes by Baker when he worked at St. Mary's Prep., Orchard Lake, MI between 1983-1985.
The group has made similar requests of church officials in Youngstown Ohio (where Baker worked from 1986 to 1992) and in Altoona (where Baker worked from 1992 to 2000).
In 1977, Baker worked at James Barry-Robinson High School and Home for Boys, according to the school’s website. Proof of Baker’s presence in Michigan is at BishopAccountability.org
Baker, who committed suicide on Saturday, belonged to a religious order called the Franciscans.
“Catholic officials at the Franciscans and bishops in at least four states –Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia – hid and are still hiding the truth about Baker’s history and crimes,” said SNAP director David Clohessy. “Each of them is guilty of violating their pledge to be ‘open and transparent’ in clergy sex abuse cases.”
SNAP leaders hope the inaction by Catholic figures will “move every single person who has knowledge or suspicions about Baker to get help, call police, expose corruption and start healing,” Jones said.