"Finally!" Abuse advocate, former priest thankful for charges

By Maria Miller
March 16, 2016

[with video]

JOHNSTOWN -- Inside Pitt-Johnstown's Heritage Hall Tuesday morning, Pennsylvania's attorney general announced criminal charges in a two-year investigation at Bishop McCort Catholic High School. At the same time, a man who's been fighting for justice for years for the alleged victims in the case stood outside.

"We have said from the very beginning that all these people wanted was healing," said Robert Hoatson.

Hoatson is the founder of "Road to Recovery," an organization that helps victims of sexual abuse. It's also an organization that's dealt specifically with alleged victims of Brother Stephen Baker for years.

"Finally, finally. I wanted to hug Attorney General Kane," Hoatson said. "But at the same time my goosebumps were there thinking of the families in Johnstown who for years have been just living with this nightmare."

Allegations against Baker first surfaced from nearly a dozen young boys taught or trained by Baker in the '80s at a school in Ohio. That's when Hoatson first became involved.

6 News met him Johnstown when dozens of others came forward in 2013 claiming the same abuse by the same man at Bishop McCort in the early '90s.

"This religious order, a small monastery in Hollidaysburg was able to cover up not just abuse at Bishop McCort, but in four or five other states," he said.

Charges have been filed against three men, all Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regulars, Province of the Immaculate Conception, accused of covering up Baker's actions. And while Hoatson said he knows his sacrifices and his fights have made a difference, he's not done fighting yet.

"I was fired from the priesthood for doing this, for speaking out and protecting kids," he said. "(Today) just tells me that what I've been doing for so many years is the right thing and I'm going to continue to do it."

Hoatson said there is hope for healing. He said his organization is willing to help anyone victimized by sexual abuse continue their healing down the road. To get in touch with "Road to Recovery," visit or call (862) 368-2800. The organization says all information and correspondence is held in the strictest confidence.


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