WARREN - The president of John F. Kennedy High School is reassuring supporters and benefactors of the school that their financial gifts are "used exclusively to support student scholarships and academic, campus ministry, athletic and artistic programs" for current students.
In a letter dated Thursday, Brian Sinchak explained that he wanted to share information related to the recent settlement in allegations of sexual abuse of former students by Stephen P. Baker, a Franciscan brother, who served as a religion teacher, baseball coach and athletic trainer at JFK in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
"While there have been reports of financial settlements, please know that these are not from school finances, investments or our operating budget," Sinchak said. "Your gifts directly benefit our current students in their development as leaders of courage, integrity and dedication."
"Brother Baker, a member of T.O.R Franciscan Order, is no longer involved with the school community and hasn't been for over twenty years," Sinchak wrote.
On Wednesday, two of 11 men who accused Baker of sexually abusing them while they were students at JFK shared the nature of the allegations during a news conference. After that news conference, the Diocese of Youngstown issued a statement, stating it first became aware of the misconduct allegation through correspondence from the former John F. Kennedy students' attorney in 2009.
The diocese maintains that neither the organization nor John F. Kennedy High School had any knowledge of the allegations of abuse while Baker served at the school. The organization also maintains it reported the allegations to Trumbull County Children's Services when it became aware of them.
Sinchak also wrote: "As friends of Kennedy, please remember that these allegations of abuse are from over twenty years ago and in no way reflect on our current school community. On behalf of the entire teaching staff and administrative team, allow me to assure you of our ongoing commitment to the safety and protection of the children entrusted to our care.
"As a school community we will continue to keep in prayer all those in our world who are abused. We pray for their healing and their protection this day and always.
Baker, who is living in a monastery in Hollisdayburg, Pa., has not been criminally charged in the matter.