A Catholic friar who lived in the Metro Detroit area in the 1980s committed suicide on Saturday, January 26, after being named in a legal settlement last week regarding the sexual assault of 11 men at a high school in Ohio. Brother Stephen Baker, who was 62 years old, killed himself with a knife according to news reports at MLive.com.
According to the SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) website, it is believed that Baker molested more than 80 children in two states; he worked for the Detroit Archdiocese for three years according to SNAP, and was assigned to St. Mary's Prep in Orchard Lake from 1983 to 1985. The alleged victims were from Ohio and Pennsylvania; the SNAP advocacy group is questioning why the Detroit Archdiocese has kept the allegations about Baker a secret, who responded:
"The Detroit Archdiocese has no record of sexual abuse complaints brought against Br. Baker during his two years in Michigan. As a professed Franciscan friar, Br. Baker took classes and worked at Orchard Lakes Schools (OLS) from 1983-85. OLS reports that it does not have any record of an abuse complaint during or after those years. Neither the archdiocese nor OLS ever received any reports/advisories from the other locations where Br. Baker worked. Additionally, we were not informed of the legal claims made against Br. Baker or his apparent suicide last weekend."
Baker took his own life at a western Pennsylvania monastery, according to police. The 11 men who were allegedly sexually abused and who were involved in the legal settlements claimed that Baker abused them thirty years ago at a northeast Ohio Catholic high school. Following the announcement of the financial settlements on January 16 (which were undisclosed), Pennsylvania's Altoona-Johnstown Diocese claimed that complaints had been received in 2011 regarding Baker and possible abuse of students at Bishop McCort High School in the 1990s.
This is a very sad and unfortunate situation, both for Baker and the alleged victims involved. However, Michigan sex crime attorneys know that in some situations, false allegations are made against innocent individuals. While it appears that Baker was guilty in this case, many people who have been falsely accused sit behind bars.
If you have been accused of child molestation or sexual abuse, consult with an experienced Michigan sex crime defense lawyer right away.