VA--More abuse cases settle vs. notorious Catholic cleric
For immediate release: Thursday, April 16
Statement by Judy Jones of St. Louis, Midwest Associate Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (h: 636.433.2511, c: 314.974.5003, SNAPjudy@gmail.com)
More civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuits involving one of the most prolific child molesting clerics in the US have settled. He's Brother Stephen P. Baker who worked in Norfolk Virginia and four other states (Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio).
In the 1970s, he worked at two church facilities in Norfolk (in the Richmond diocese): Holy Trinity Catholic Church and School and James Barry-Robinson High School and Home for Boys.
Br. Baker's accused of molesting more than 90 kids. We suspect that literally dozens of his Catholic colleagues and supervisors knew or suspected his crimes and ignored or hid them.
In 2005, church officials paid one Br. Baker victim $50,000 but told no one. As a result, “Baker may have had access to children through the late 2000s,” according to the independent archive group BishopAccountability.org.
We call on Richmond Bishop Francis DiLorenzo to use his vast resources – church websites, parish bulletins, pulpit announcements and news releases – to aggressively seek out others in Minnesota who were assaulted by Br. Baker. If he refuses, we call on the dozens of Virginia priests who run parishes to do this outreach.
We hope these settlements bring long-overdue and much-needed help, comfort and closures to these brave men. And we hope that they will prod others, who may have knowledge or suspicions about Baker’s crimes or his supervisors’ cover ups, to speak up.
We believe that Br. Baker abused more kids. Some of them, now adults, are likely still suffering in shame, silence and self-blame. We want them to know that they are not alone, not at fault and can get better, but only if they find the courage to break their silence and get independent help.
And we want Catholic officials in all four states to take vigorous steps to reach out to those who’ve been hurt by Br. Baker, instead of saying and doing little to acknowledge his crimes and help his victims.
(Attorneys who represent Br. Baker's victims include Jeff Anderson of St. Paul MN, Richard Serbin of Altoona PA and Mitchell Garabedian of Boston MA.)
Br. Baker belonged to a Catholic religious order called the Third Order Regular Franciscans. (Often, bishops try to distance themselves from religious order sex offender clerics. But such clerics work in a diocese only with the bishop’s approval. And in Ohio, the local bishop paid 30% of the settlements with Baker victims, which proves that bishops are at least partially responsible for harm done by religious order clerics in their dioceses.)
Br. Baker’s photo and work history are here: http://www.bishopaccountability.org/assign/Baker_Stephen_P.htm.
If Catholic officials really want “healing,” they'll start by begging everyone who may have been assaulted by Br. Baker to step forward. They'll go to every place where Br. Baker worked and do the same thing. They'll put Br. Baker's name, photo, and work history in every parish bulletin in each diocese where he worked. And they’ll punish staff who hid his crimes.
Every single person who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by Br. Baker or cover ups by his church supervisors should speak up, expose wrongdoing, get help, and take legal action to seek justice and prevent such horror in the future. This deters cover ups.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 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.