YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Just two weeks after victims come out and speak about sexual abuse at that hand of their coach and teacher, the accused commits suicide in a Pennsylvania monastery.
The Provincial of the Third Order Regular Franciscans made the announcement Saturday morning that 62-year-old Reverend Stephen Baker, who taught and coached at Warren John F Kennedy, at Saint Mary's, and most recently at Bishop McCort High in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, had died.
A coroner's report confirms Baker died of self-inflicted wounds.
Bishop George Murry of Youngstown said let us continue to pray for all victims of abuse and for Brother Baker's family and the repose of his soul.
21 News spoke with Boston Attorney Mitchell Garabedian who settled 11 cases last year for men who say Brother Baker molested them as children. Garabedian will continue to pursue cases for the sex abuse victims of Baker. "I do not believe this will affect cases due to the negligence supervision involved," Garabedian said.
Attorney Richard Serbin in Altoona tells 21 News about a dozen more victims have come forward alleging abuse at the hands of Brother Baker while attending Bishop McCort High in Pennsylvania in the 90s through early 2000. He believes there are many more. "The number of cases regarding Baker is far greater than I've seen with other child predators," Serbin said.
SNAP, which stands for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, wants victims to still file police reports in the area where the crime occurred in hopes prosecutors will subpoena materials kept in the Secret Cannons which might reveal who knew about the abuse and possibly helped cover it up.
"It's still crucial that victims, witnesses and whistle blowers come forward so complacent church officials can be exposed and held responsible so future cover ups can be deterred," said Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Association Director.
Michael Monel who was victimized 25 years ago as a student at John F. Kennedy in Warren says the death of Baker might make it easier for others to come forward since they will never have to face him again. However there will be no vindication for victims either.
"It's sad for his family. They lost a loved one. It's sad for us victims, justice will never be served," Monel said.
The circumstances of Baker's death have not been released. An autopsy is being conducted.