Mccort Graduates Had Suspicions against Former Teacher

By Maria Miller
January 23, 2013

[with video]


It's been a week since sex abuse allegations surfaced in Johnstown involving a Franciscan brother who worked at Bishop McCort in the 1990s. Students have come forward alleging abuse took place while brother Baker worked at the school as a religion teacher and athletic trainer.

6 News learned Wednesday that Baker also held teaching positions at a middle school in Ohio and a boys home in Virginia.

The Catholic Diocese of Altoona - Johnstown admitted last week that Bishop Mark Bartchak first heard allegations against Baker in 2011. Before that, it's not clear as to who knew what and when. But the Boston attorney representing several alleged victims said he's working to find that answer.

"This is fitting the typical pattern of what the church does when they have a sexual abuser on their hands," said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney known nationally for representing victims of clergy sex abuse. "Instead of preventing the abuse, they transfer the pedofile from location to location to location."

Garabedian said he's learned that Baker worked in at least four different schools the last few decades, and he said the number of alleged victims coming forward is growing every day.

"There's just an enormous avalanche of people coming forward" said Garabedian.

It's something that 2000 Bishop McCort graduate Joe Andolina said doesn't surprise him.

"He was just creepy," said Andolina. "If you were in my class, my graduating year, you knew that stuff happened."

Andolina said Baker was very well-known to everyone at the school, but he said the way he acted always seemed strange.

"He was very well-liked by everyone -- well, by most, not by all," said Andolina. "I never liked him. Like I said, he was always just creepy."

He said Baker seemed to take a liking more towards the boys. And as the school's athletic trainer at the time, Andolina said, students saw things happen but would just joke it off.

"'Oh, you sprained your ankle? Take your pants off.' Like that is just what we would say," explained Andolina. "For any kind of injury, it always had something to do with brother Steve being weird."

Garabedian said the allegations he's heard are often graphic, involving events happening inside the classroom, hallways, offices and even Baker's van. Because it's now known that Baker worked in at least four different schools, Garabedian said he expects the number of alleged victims to reach into the hundreds.








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