Hollidaysburg, PA – Accused friar Brother Stephen Baker was found dead in an apparent suicide at St. Bernadine Monastery in Pennsylvania earlier today.
The 62-year-old Franciscan friar was accused by eleven different individuals of child sexual abuse in Ohio and more in Pennsylvania, Fox reports. Blair township police Chief Roger White said that authorities were called to the monastery where they found the accused friar’s dead body.
The allegations against Baker came from two students at two difference Catholic high schools. Baker had settled in court with his now-grown accusers from John F. Kennedy High School in Warren, Ohio, but new complaints against him arose regarding additional child sexual abuse cases from students at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
The accused friar used to be the school’s athletic trainer. Twenty former students accused him of assaulting or molesting students under the guise of providing therapeutic treatment or medical care for sports injuries, said Attorney Michael Parrish of Johnstown, who represents Baker’s accusers.
“Many of them did not realize until the stories began to break that what he was in fact doing to them was an assault or molestation, not actual therapeutic care,” Parrish said, explaining that his clients were between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time of the abuse.
“He would treat these individuals for a hamstring injury and use that as an opportunity to physically grope them and do other things that constitutes a sexual assault under Pennsylvania law.”
ABC News reports that police declined to comment on exactly how Baker killed himself, or whether or not he left a suicide note, explaining his actions.