Altoona-Johnstown Diocese temporarily suspends efforts to resolve claims in Baker case

From CDT staff reportsApril 25, 2014 

— The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown has suspended efforts to resolve claims related to allegations of sexual molestation involving Franciscan friar Stephen Baker.

More than 80 people came forward with allegations against Baker, and more than 40 individuals have filed lawsuits in Cambria and Blair counties, The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown has reported.

Most of the alleged victims are males who attended Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown.

The Tribune-Democrat has reported that Baker has been linked to claims stretching back four decades in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio.

The state Attorney General’s Office took over the local case in January.

Spokesman Tony DeGol said the diocese’s suspension of negotiations is temporary but did not elaborate when contacted by phone Friday.

“It would be inappropriate for the (d)iocese to proceed with the civil matters while the (a)ttorney (g)eneral’s investigation is active,” DeGol said in a prepared statement. “The (d)iocese intends to resume the settlement efforts related to the actions of Brother Baker as soon as appropriate.”

Baker was a religion teacher and a trainer with the Bishop McCort athletic department from 1992 to 2001.

He committed suicide in January 2013 at the Blair County monastery where he lived.

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