Protester calls for seizure of Youngstown Diocese records

By Janet Rogers
March 07, 2016


Youngstown Catholic Bishop George Murry is being called on to settle 28 cases of child sexual abuse allegedly perpetrated Brother Stephen Baker, who was a coach at Warren John F. Kennedy High School in the 1980's and 1990's.

"We want the county prosecutors in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties to request Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to do the same kind of investigation that Pennsylvania's Attorney General did,” said Dr. Robert Hoatson, who was among the protesters outside the offices of the Youngstown Diocese on Sunday.

The recently completed Pennsylvania investigation revealed decades of alleged systematic protection of sexual predators within the community of priests and religious leaders in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona Johnstown, including Brother Stephen Baker.

In 2013 Baker committed suicide shortly after the church settled lawsuits filed by 11 victims who had been students at Warren JFK.

“We want a group of law enforcement officers to raid the Youngstown Diocese and take out the secret files on every priest, just like they did in PA. It is the only way we got to the truth in Altoona and Johnstown. It is the only way we will get to the truth in Youngstown, Ohio,” said Dr. Hoatson, who is a counselor with Road to Recovery based in New Jersey and works with victims of sexual abuse.

The protesters claim that Bishop Murry has the authority and power to settle cases of 28 other people who were allegedly victimized at Warren JFK High School.

The Roman Catholic Diocese issued a statement saying Bishop George Murry assumed an active role in seeking justice in the Brother Baker case, sending letters to all students who attended John F. Kennedy at the time and asking any victims to come forward.

"The Bishop is doing the best job possible in order to assist those individuals who have been victimized by clergy or religious. The Diocese has offered counseling and has paid for private counselors for victims," according to Monsignor John Zuraw. "Bishop Murry has offered to meet with each person who identified himself or herself as a victim."

One protester who asked not to be identified told 21 News that Brother Stephen Baker sexually abused him at age 14. He says he has suffered with problems for years due to what happened to him at Warren JFK.

He said he believes Bishop Murray should be at mediation sessions to help facilitate healing and settle the cases.

"I must visit my son at a cemetery due to Brother Baker and the church cover up. My son Luke Bradeskeu committed suicide. He was unable to live with the abuse by Brother Baker,” said former JFK teacher Barbara Aponte, who claims Bishop Murry has been unwilling to meet with her for two years.

"Attorneys for the church and insurance companies at mediation sessions have a check list of what to pay according to what took place, but what is missing from their check list is suicide, because in the eyes of the church suicide is not a problem, but a solution because it's one less victim they must deal with, that's how I feel I have been treated," said Aponte.

For more information about the response of the Diocese of Youngstown to allegations of sexual abuse contact Thomas Sauline, Administrator of Child Protection, 330-559-4300 or 330-744-8451. Anyone who is a victim can also call their local police department.


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