Bishop McCort Principal Removed
March 3, 2013
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Bishop McCort principal Ken Salem was placed on administrative leave with pay on Friday.
McCort high school has been in the midst of controversy since dozens of former students have accused the late Friar Brother Stephen Baker with sexual abuse. Baker worked as an athletic trainer at the school in the 1990s.
6 News received a letter from Salem’s attorney as well as a statement from McCort’s trustees.
The attorney statement blasted the action, saying it violated “fundamental fairness.”
The letter from trustees addressed to the Bishop McCort family, simply said Salem will no longer serve as principal. It did not offer any explanation of the action.
But the letter from Salem’s attorney specifically cited the Brother Baker scandal directly.
“The unfortunate actions of Brother Stephen Baker were unknown to Ken Salem and he has been shocked and grieved to discover that these incidents of abuse occurred. Mr. Salem prays every day for the victims of Brother Baker and hopes that everyone impacted by Brother Baker’s heinous acts finds healing and justice,” the statement continued.
Baker committed suicide Jan. 26 at a monastery in Newry more than a week after the Youngstown, Ohio diocese disclosed financial settlements involving 11 students who claimed they were abused by Baker at a northeastern Ohio school in the late 1980s.
Since then, several attorneys have filed notice that three more former students intend to sue the church and school officials they believe are responsible for them being molested by the Franciscan friar.
Altoona attorney Richard Serbin says the three "John Doe" victims claim abuse by Brother Stephen Baker when he served as an athletic trainer or was otherwise in or around Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown from 1992 to 2001. Attorneys say at least 50 former students at schools in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan have since come forward with abuse claims.
The letter from the attorney for the principal said, “Mr. Salem will continue to pray for the school, students, faculty, staff, and alumni of Bishop McCort Catholic High School who will always hold a special place in his heart.”
The Bishop McCort Board of Trustees said it has appointed current Assistant Principal, Dr. D.A. Gardill, to fill the position of Acting Principal on an interim basis.