Late Friar Accused of Sexual Abuse Once Worked in Orchard Lake

By Taryn Asher
My Fox Detroit
January 31, 2013

A man of the cloth who once served in metro Detroit has taken his own life. He is accused of sexually abusing children in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Now many want to know if the same thing happened here.

Leading the charge is SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. They believe if it happened elsewhere with nearly 80 accusers, there's a good chance it happened here.

Brother Stephen Baker is accused of molesting a dozen students at Catholic high schools in Pennsylvania and Ohio in the late eighties and nineties. One alleged victim explained how the Franciscan friar used his position as an athletic trainer to treat injuries with massages that would lead to the molestation.

"Quadricep muscle that was injured, back muscle, shoulders, whatever, you were usually asked to strip down regardless of the place of where the injury was," said Michael Munno.

Last Saturday, days after a lawsuit was settled and 60 more accusers came forward, Baker, a former coach and teacher, took his own life at a Pennsylvania monastery, stabbing himself in the chest and reportedly leaving a suicide note behind apologizing to some of his victims.

A background check revealed before Brother Baker moved to Ohio, he worked in Michigan from 1983 to 1985 at St. Mary's Preparatory in Orchard Lake.

Matt Jatczac from SNAP wants to know why the archbishop of Detroit, who vowed to be open and transparent, chose not to disclose this information.

"He hasn't said anything publicly about it at all, and he has due diligence to warn the community and to the faithful in his church," he said.

Jatczac hand delivered a letter Wednesday to the archdiocese demanding answers. Did they know and were there any other victims that came forward in Michigan with the same allegations?

In response, a spokesperson for the archdiocese released this statement to Fox 2:

"The Detroit archdiocese has no record of sexual abuse complaints involving minors brought against Mr. Baker during his two years in Michigan. As a professed Franciscan friar, Mr. Baker took classes and worked at Orchard Lake Schools (OLS) from 1983-85. OLS reports that it does not have any record of an abuse complaint during or after those years. Neither the archdiocese nor OLS ever received any reports/advisories from the other locations where Br. Baker worked. Additionally, we were not informed of the legal claims made against Br. Baker or his apparent suicide last weekend."

"If everybody knew about it and it drove this man to commit suicide, it's amazing that the archbishop and the Archdiocese of Detroit didn't know," Jatczac said.

Jatczac, who claims he is also a victim of sexual abuse by another priest, is encouraging anyone who may have been a victim of Baker's while he was at St. Mary's to come forward. While legally no action can be taken against Baker here, he said it may bring any potential victims the closure they need.

"There [are] probably a lot of victims that are suffering in silence thinking that they were the only ones that got abused and now this gives credence to their stories," he remarked.

If there are victims out there, Jatczac said they need to call police and a support group and get help right away.

Baker can't be prosecuted, but even if he was alive, we're told the statue of limitations ran out. However, Jatczac said anyone who may have tried to cover up a crime or concealed information could still possibly held accountable and that's why it's important that any victims come forward.








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