Claims of abuse by Baker rising
The magnitude of accusations against Brother Stephen Baker is staggering, said an Altoona attorney who has represented victims of sexual abuse since 1987.
“He appears to be the most prolific child predator I’ve dealt with, and I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” attorney Richard Serbin said.
Serbin filed his first lawsuit against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and its bishop for allegedly protecting a serial child predator, the Rev. Francis Luddy.
That trial began in 1994 – when Baker was at Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown. Baker served as a religion teacher at Bishop McCort from 1990 to 2000 or 2001.
In the past week Serbin has been contacted to represent 12 young men who were allegedly victimized by Baker.
The allegations are coming to light after Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian won a settlement for 11 men who claim they were molested by Baker while he coached at John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio, from 1986 to 1990.
The Youngstown, Ohio, diocese told the Warren Tribune Chronicle in a story published today that the settlements were in the “high five figures” for each of the 11 men.
The diocese is paying 30 percent of the settlements, while the Franciscan order is paying 70 percent, Bishop George V. Murry said.
Garabedian said he is currently investigating 25 new claims against Baker from alleged victims who attended two schools in Ohio and Bishop McCort.
“He’s a serial pedophile who probably molested hundreds of children,” said Garabedian, who represented 120 victims of over 40 different priests and obtained an $85 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Boston in 2003.
“Baker knew no boundaries and had negligent supervisors,” he said. “They don’t stop until law stops them.”
Baker’s superior at St. Bernardine’s Monastery in Newry, the Rev. Patrick Quinn, stated in an email on Jan. 16 that Baker was removed from the ministry in 2000 “upon the receipt of an allegation of a young man of a single event involving massage that occurred in the ’80s. That case not only resulted in Baker’s removal from ministry but also in the form of a lawsuit that was resolved in 2002.”
It involved a confidentiality agreement requested by the victim, he said.
In another statement on Saturday, Quinn said Baker “has been and continues to be removed from public ministry and is living under supervision, in which he has no contact with minors.”
But Baker allegedly continued to have access to children through the late 2000s, sources told the Mirror.
According to Garabedian’s record, from 2001 to 2003 Baker was stationed at St. Bernardine Monastery. From 2004 to 2010, Baker was based at St. Joseph’s Monastery in Hollidaysburg.
Serbin said more victims are likely to find courage to come forward.
He said the young men he represents were between ages of 14 and 17 when Baker allegedly abused them, some have been abused multiple times.
The abuse Serbin said, included “entering the hot tub naked and Baker giving a full body massage regardless of what the injury was.”
“Based upon info received, the total number of children he allegedly abused is staggering,” he said.
“And I still think we will see more who will come forward. Victims said they know of more young men who were molested by Baker.”
Serbin is investigating his clients’ claims.
“I’m going to investigate each case and approach the diocese and Franciscan order and see what their response is. And we’ll see whether we need litigation or whether it can be resolved without litigation,” he said
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.