Former St. Mary's Orchard Lake Schools Students Come Forward, Say They Were Molested
By Carol Hopkins
February 25, 2013
Four former St. Mary’s Orchard Lake Schools students have come forward to say they were sexually molested by a priest at the school in the 1980s — and a Boston attorney has heard the stories and is researching his next step in the matter.
The priest, Brother Stephen Baker, worked at the school in Orchard Lake between 1983-85.
Baker, 62, killed himself Jan. 26 with a self-inflicted knife wound to the heart at the St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg, Pa. — Baker is accused of molesting high schools students in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Baker left a note apologizing for his actions, officials reported.
Prior abuse cases continue to trouble the church.
There is no record that Baker molested anyone connected with the school system, said officials with the Archdiocese of Detroit.
“He knew no bounds and was not properly being supervised,” said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston, Mass.-based attorney who specializes in sexual abuse cases.
Based on his research, Garabedian called Baker a “serial pedophile who probably sexually molested hundreds in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.”
Garabedian said Baker worked at Orchard Lake Schools from 1982-84.
He said the victims he heard from were between 14-16 at the time. They now reside in Michigan, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He would not divulge the victims’ names or circumstances.
“Brother Baker was a dorm master at the time and taught religion,” Garabedian said.
“He used his position of authority and influence to sexually molest innocent children and steal their innocence. The abuse has caused irreparable emotional harm to these victims.”
The attorney said in some schools, Baker would “openly fondle children where other children could see it.
“Certainly, if children were seeing it, supervisors should have noticed,” he said.
Garabedian is researching how and when a legal suit might be filed, including whether a statute of limitations could be involved.
Garabedian said he has heard from many victims.
“After Baker left Johnstown, Pa. schools, he would go back for ceremonies and sexually molest children,” he said. “I have him tracked molesting children ages 12-18 from 1982-2007. Individuals have come forward from 12 different states in the country.”
A call has been placed to the Archdiocese of Detroit for reactions to the latest information.
Baker was named in legal settlements in January involving 11 men who alleged that he sexually abused them at a Catholic high school in northeast Ohio three decades ago. The undisclosed financial settlements announced Jan. 16 involved his contact with students at John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio from 1986-90.
Matt Jatczak, the Detroit area leader for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he was grateful to media for spreading the word about Baker’s case and abusive priests.
“Without the information these people would still be suffering,” Jatczak said.
“At least they’ll now be able to tell their stories and get the closure they deserve.”