Victims advocate: Altoona-Johnstown diocese ‘retrenching’ in wake of abuse report


By Dave Sutor

An alleged victim of child sexual abuse, who came forward shortly after a grand jury report was released that accused the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona–Johnstown of orchestrating a decades-long coverup of pedophilia within its ranks, now finds himself at odds with the diocese over a proposed settlement.

The now 34-year-old man claims he was abused by Brother Stephen Baker from approximately 1996 to 1998 ,when both were at what was then called Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown.

Robert Hoatson, co-founder of Road to Recovery, a support group for victims, said a settlement offer has been made by the diocese and Third Order Regular, Province of the Immaculate Conception, which assigned Baker to Bishop McCort. But Hoatson described the amount as “peanuts.”

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston-based lawyer who represents the accuser, said, “The diocese and the Franciscans are re-victimizing my client.”

He accused the diocese of acting in an “extremely non-pastoral way.”

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