CSB: No record of abuse info from diocese

The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown says it gave information about abuse allegations at Warren John F. Kennedy High School to Trumbull County Children Services. Officials there, however, say there is no record that they received any such information.

Brother Stephen P. Baker, who taught and coached at the high school in the late-1980s and early 1990s, recently has been accused of molesting at least 17 teens at the Catholic high school.

No criminal charges were ever filed in the case. The case never reached a courtroom and was settled through arbitration over four days last summer for the first 11 people making the claims. The settlement was finalized in October and includes no admission of any wrongdoing on the part of Youngstown Diocese, the school of the Franciscan order Baker belongs to.

The amount of the settlement wasn’t disclosed.

Since the settlement, at least six additional people made claims that they also were victims.

The Diocese of Youngstown in a letter released this week stated that it became aware of the allegations in 2009 and turned over any information it had over to Trumbull County Children Services.

The Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office said it could not comment on any cases referred to it in reference to the Baker allegations.

Any investigations would have been done either by local police department or by Children Services.

Tim Schaffner, the executive director of Children Services, said a search of the department records has not turned up a letter in its files discussing the allegations about Baker or any actions being described.

Schaffner added, however, that because the victims would have been adults by the time information may have been turned over, it would not have fallen under its jurisdiction.

“This department is charged with investigating abuse allegations against children,” Schaffner said. “If the department would have received information, we would have attempted to find out if the perpetrator was still in the area and if he was a continued threat to children.”

Schaffner emphasized that the statute of limitations for the majority of the cases had expired.

“I do support an effort by (state) Sen. Capri Cafaro to eliminate the 20-year statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases,” Schaffner said. “We need to eliminate the statute of limitations for reporting the cases.”

Cafaro, D-Hubbard, said she is looking to reintroduce the legislation in the state Senate. The original bill, SB 185, was introduced by state Sen. Nina Turner, and Cafaro was a co-sponsor.

“When individuals have been violated and abused in this manner, I know it takes a lot of courage and strength to come forward to admit this kind of heinous abuse to themselves and to others,” Cafaro said. “I believe victims are revictimized if they find out it is not possible to seek justice because too much time has lapsed.”