PA- Settlement reached with 88 clergy abuse victims
For immediate release: Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014
Church officials in four states concealed allegations
SNAP: “How many other child molesting clerics are still hidden?”
Roughly $8 million will be paid to 88 victims of Br. Stephen P. Baker, a notorious child molesting Catholic cleric. We suspect these 88 are just a fraction of the total number of boys that Baker assaulted while his church supervisors quietly moved him from state to state (PA, MI, OH and MN) .
We applaud these brave and persistent men who were strong enough to step forward, get help, expose wrongdoers, endure delays and win some measure of justice. We hope this settlement will help in their healing and we hope they stay involved in therapy, 12-step programs, self help groups and other efforts to rebuild their lives.
We urge victims, and whistleblowers to contact secular authorities, not church officials. And we beg anyone who may have seen, suspected, or suffered clergy crimes - by this cleric or others - to come forward, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
Catholic figures claim the first accusations against Baker surfaced in 2009 in the Youngstown area. We believe, however, that other victims likely came forward long years earlier. No church officials however, made the allegations public.
Months ago, 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.
So it’s clear that Catholic officials continue to try to keep even credible child sex abuse reports against clerics secret. Shame on them.
The bishops in every diocese where Baker worked should 1) explain why they hid accusations against and/or settlements involving Baker, 2) disclose whether Baker allegedly molested in their area, and 3) use their archdiocesan websites, archdiocesan newspapers, parish bulletins and pulpit announcements to beg anyone who saw, suspected or suffered Baker’s crimes to come forward.
We believe these prelates have violated the US bishops’ national abuse policy which mandates “openness and transparency” in clergy sex cases. We believe the silence of these Catholic officials also gives wrongdoers like Baker and his complicit church supervisors ample opportunity to intimidate victims, threaten whistleblowers, discredit witnesses, destroy evidence and fabricate alibis.
Most of Baker’s Ohio victims are represented by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian (617-523-6250, 866-345-2214, email@example.com). Some of Baker’s Pennsylvania victims are represented by Altoona attorney Richard Serbin (814-944-6111, firstname.lastname@example.org).
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
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.