11 Former Jfk Students Receive Financial Settlements from Alleged Sexual Abuse
By Michelle Nicks
January 17, 2013
WARREN, Ohio - Disturbing allegations that "rampant and serial sexual abuse" went on for years at Warren's John F. Kennedy High School at the hands of a former religious teacher and coach.
Eleven men, who say they were the victims of Brother Stephen P. Baker when they were just 14 to 18-years-old, have now received financial settlements that include money from the Catholic Dioceses of Youngstown, the T.O.R. Franciscan Order out of Pennsylvania, and JFK.
Asking that we protect their anonymity, two former graduates of John F. Kennedy High School in Warren who live and work as successful businessmen in the area, have a disturbing story to tell about the alleged sexual abuse that took place. They say it happened inside the Catholic school and on road trips for sporting events more than 20 years ago.
One man, who we will refer to as John Doe #1, says Brother Baker was also the athletic trainer, so students would have to consult him about sports related injuries.
"Brother Baker would take you into the training room, a closed training room where no one could see in, and either put you in a whirlpool and watch you take a whirlpool and then massage different areas, private areas. Areas sometimes unrelated to your injury," said John Doe #1.
Brother Baker was not only the athletic trainer, but the head baseball coach, and a religious teacher at JFK from 1986 until 1991.
The two men speaking out are among 11 who attended JFK High School between 1986 and 1990, and who have now received the financial settlements for crimes committed against them as children, allegedly by a man of the cloth.
Some allege they were molested up to 25 times by Brother Baker and were evenly openly groped in the school's hallways and on trips to sporting events.
The alleged molestation included not only massages, but digital penetration.
The men say as teenagers they had little faith about speaking up against a man they felt intimidated by, and who they viewed as an authority figure related to the church.
A man we'll refer to as John Doe #2 says, "I certainly feel like I would have been ostracized, or fell out of favor."
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston says one of the victims, who now lives in Massachusetts, consulted him about the case approximately three years ago.
In all but one of the cases, the statute of limitations has run out Attorney Garabedian said. Meaning, criminal charges in those cases are not an option.
But each of the 11 men who claim they were victims of Brother Stephen Baker were awarded five figure settlements in September.
Some of that money came from the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown. The Diocese says that Brother Baker was never a member of its clergy, but he did teach at one of the schools.
The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown also says that Brother Baker did not admit to the allegations. They contend he is not teaching or involved in any public ministry.
Bishop George V. Murry, the Bishop of Youngstown, says, "The Diocese of Youngstown continues to be committed to protecting children and helping to heal victims of abuse. I am deeply sorry for the pain suffered by survivors of abuse, because nothing is more important than protecting our children."
The Diocese encourages anyone who was a victim of sexual abuse by clergy or others associated with the church to notify their local authorities and contact the diocesan victim assistance coordinator at: (330) 744-8451.
We did attempt to reach Brother Baker at the monastery where he now lives near Altoona, Pennsylvania, but we were told he was not available.
However, Reverend Patrick Quinn did come to the telephone and said, "Brother Stephen Baker has been and continues to be removed from all public ministry and is living under supervision with no contact with minors."
A 12th alleged victim has now also come forward.