Altoona-johnstown Diocese: Allegations against Bishop Mccort Trainer Surfaced in 2011

January 18, 2013

[with video]

6 News learned late Thursday afternoon that several former athletes who attended Bishop McCort High School in the late 1990s have reached out to a local attorney after a Franciscan brother was accused of having inappropriate contact with minors in Ohio a decade before.

"One of our concerns in the case and one of the issues with respect to this situation is what was known to Brother Baker before he ended up at the diocese here in Johnstown," said attorney Michael Parrish.

Brother Stephen Baker has been accused of abusing 11young boys in Ohio. Now grown men, they said they recently reached settlements in civil court.

The Johnstown-Altoona Diocese said late Thursday that it received its first report of local allegations against Baker in November 2011.

The diocese released a statement saying Bishop Mark Bartchak immediately notified the aurthorities at that time and made sure Baker had been removed from all ministerial activities and any contact with minors.

In the meantime, 6 News reporter Maria Miller learned former Bishop McCort students started coming forward with their own questions on Thursday.

"We've received a number of calls from men who were student athletes at Bishop McCort in the late 1990s inquiring about the case and what can be done on their behalf," said Parrish.

He said he's only scraped the surface with the men that have reached out to him. He said he couldn't elaborate on what type of misconduct they said they may have experienced, but said it's clear they're recalling things that may have happened years ago that they're only now starting to understand.

"From our standpoint, the thing that we're interested in and the thing that's been told to us, these young guys are shocked," said Parrish. "(They're shocked) that what was relayed to them as therapeutic treatment was probably just a creative ruse for a sexual assault or molestation."

Right now Parrish said his office is investigating and has to first determine if the claims are valid before they proceed. But he said if they are true he can understand why they went untold for so many years.

"It's an embarrassing thing," said Parrish. "Maybe something that happened to a 17- or 18-year-old kid that they buried away and don't like to think about, in today's world obviously, it's more in the forefront."

Right now Parrish said there are more questions than he has answers but he said his office has already delved into issue and plans to meet with those men who reached out to him on Friday.








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