Friar accused of abuse found dead in Pa.

Jan. 26, 2013 at 6:38 PM
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HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa., Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A Catholic friar accused of sexually abusing at least 11 male students at an Ohio Catholic school has died at a Pennsylvania monastery, church officials said.

Stephen Baker died Sunday at St. Bernardine Monastery in Hollidaysburg, Pa., the Provincial of the Third Order Regular Franciscans said Saturday in a statement.

An autopsy was being conducted Saturday to determine whether Baker's death was a suicide, The Altoona (Pa.) Mirror reported.

"Let us continue to pray for all victims of abuse, for Brother Baker's family and the repose of his soul," the Rev. Patrick Quinn of the Diocese of Youngstown said in a statement.

The Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator said Baker taught, coached baseball and served as athletic trainer at Warren John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio, which is operated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Youngstown.

The Vindicator said settlements have been reached with 11 of Baker's alleged victims, who said he fondled teenagers age 14 to 18 from 1986 to 1990. Baker later taught at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Pa., from 1990 to 2000, the Mirror reported.

"I am deeply sorry for the pain which the victims of Brother Baker endured while at John F. Kennedy High School in Warren," Bishop George V. Murry said at a news conference Thursday in Youngstown regarding the settlements. "Brother Baker betrayed the trust which these young men placed in him as a spiritual leader. While I understand that nothing I can say will eliminate their agony, I want them to know that I stand with them and will not tolerate abusive behavior from Church officials."

Murry said the diocese first became aware of the misconduct allegations concerning Baker in 2009 through correspondence from the attorney for the former JFK students.

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