Bishop Mccort Launches Investigation
By Patrick Raggett
January 25, 2013
Bishop McCort Catholic High School has hired a Pittsburgh-based law firm to investigate allegations of sexual abuse involving Brother Stephen Baker, who taught at the school in the late 1990s.
The non-diocesan members the school's board of trustees became aware of the allegations late last week, according to a press release. At the time of Baker's tenure with Bishop McCort, the school was a part of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. It has since undergone privatization.
After learning of the allegations, the board ordered a voluntary internal review and investigation, hiring Kathleen A. Gallagher and Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott to conduct the investigation.
Gallagher is a former prosecutor with the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office. The school said she has prosecuted numerous sexual assault cases and thus "brings a unique understanding of both the law and unique circumstances surrounding such cases."
A settlement was reached with 11 people Baker allegedly victimized while at John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Warren, Ohio, from 1986 to 1990.
The settlements involved the school, Third Order Regular Franciscans and Youngstown Catholic Diocese. Members of those organizations said they were unaware of the allegations until nearly 20 years after the alleged abuse, according to The Associated Press. Baker was not criminally charged.
Johnstown attorney Michael Parrish said potential victims from the Johnstown-area Catholic school contacted his office after the story in Ohio broke.
In the release, the school said sexual assault victims "must be embraced, counseled and comforted in their time of pain."
"Although Bishop McCort is now a private institution and no longer operated by the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, the school is committed to ensuring that it is the safest, most conducive educational environment for its students and families," the release states. "The Bishop McCort family is committed to helping each and every student, family and parishioner associated with the school develop spiritually, morally and emotionally as a child of God. The effort launched today by the school is an attempt to help any victims of abuse associated with these allegations receive a level of closure and resolution to this painful chapter of their lives."