Altoona-Johnstown diocese suspends sex-abuse settlement talks

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Church officials in central Pennsylvania have suspended efforts to settle lawsuits filed by students who say they were molested by a Franciscan friar.

A statement released by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown says talks could resume after state authorities finish investigating the case.

Brother Stephen Baker worked at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown from 1992 to 2001 as an athletic trainer. Several former students have sued school officials and the diocese over alleged sexual abuse by Baker.

The 62-year-old friar committed suicide in January 2013 at a monastery in Newry, Blair County. His death came soon after he was named in financial settlements stemming from alleged abuse cases involving 11 students at a school in Ohio.

The state attorney general’s office began its probe four months ago.



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