Youngstown Diocese settles Brother Baker sexual abuse case
By Gerry Ricciutti
September 13, 2016
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A settlement has been reached between the Youngstown Catholic Diocese and the alleged victims of a child sexual abuse case, but a victims’ advocate group says the amount isn’t enough.
An investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office in March revealed Brother Stephen Baker of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese may have molested 28 more alleged victims.
Before Baker killed himself in 2013, he was accused of molesting 88 students between 1986 and 2001.
Organizers from the Road to Recovery nonprofit group said Monday that the $900,000 settlement is “disrespectful.”
“Their main mission is to help these families and these victims heal, and we don’t think that this settlement goes very far in doing that,” said Robert Hoatson with Road to Recovery.
Barbara Aponte still carries the memory of her son, Luke Bradesku, around her neck.
“A little cross with some of his ashes and his dog tag from his service in the Marines,” she said.
Aponte’s son was one of a number of former Warren JFK High School students who say they were sexually assaulted by Baker, who was a baseball coach at the school.
Bradesku ultimately committed suicide. Now he and 27 classmates are sharing in the $900,000 payment from the Diocese of Youngstown.
“The settlement is their acknowledgement that these victims were indeed victims,” Aponte said.
Leaders with the diocese reached the settlement with victims and their families last spring, and included mental health counseling as well as the financial award. The diocese says they’re a little surprised by Tuesday’s protest.
They had an opportunity to talk specifically with their attorney to simply say, ‘I’m not ready to sign off on this,'” said Monsignor John Zuraw.
Aponte admits she signed off on the agreement in August, hoping this part of the nightmare would end.
“I can’t speak for anybody else. I don’t have the energy to deal with the nonsense anymore,” she said.
Aponte says she is still waiting for her chance to talk face-to-face with Bishop George Murry about what he’s doing to keep others from being abused.
“He has offered that and that invitation still remains on the table,” Zuraw said.
In the meantime, Zuraw says the diocese has implemented a number of programs to both investigate abuse and help victims recover.