Baker sex abuse settlements delayed for AG investigation

HOLLIDAYSBURG – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has suspended efforts to settle abuse claims involving Stephen Baker, the Franciscan friar accused of dozens of sex crimes against children, while state investigators look into the case.

Baker committed suicide in January 2013 at the St. Bernardine Monastery in Blair Township amid reports of abuse from former students in Johnstown and Ohio. Baker worked as a teacher and trainer at several schools, including Bishop McCort High School, Johnstown.

The diocese suspended settlement efforts while representatives await an investigation by Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office.

“It would be inappropriate for the Diocese to proceed with the civil matters while the attorney general’s investigation is active,” secretary for communications Tony DeGol said in a news release on Friday afternoon.

“The Diocese intends to resume the settlement efforts related to the actions of Brother Baker as soon as appropriate,” DeGol said.

Kane’s office took up the investigation in January after officials met with Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan.

Dozens more students, including some in other states, came forward with new

accusations after Baker’s death.

Some filed lawsuits against the diocese and the unconnected monastery.