Former Franciscan Leaders Face Criminal Charges For Enabling Friar Who Abused More Than 100 Children

Hours of testimony and legal jousting led to a quick conclusion Wednesday afternoon when a judge ordered three Franciscan priests to stand trial on charges of conspiracy and endangering the welfare of children for their oversight of a sexually abusive friar.

Blair County District Judge Paula Aigner made the ruling without elaborating after a prosecutor argued that the three put hundreds of children in harm’s way over nearly two decades by assigning the late Brother Stephen Baker to work among them.

“The safety of children was on the line,” Deputy Attorney General Daniel Dye said during closing arguments. The friar’s supervisors responded as a “bureaucracy,” he said, informing their insurance company but not Baker’s supervisors or parents at Bishop McCort Catholic High School in Johnstown. They decided “how much risk was appropriate to expose other people’s children to,” he said.

Defense lawyers countered that the priests knew little of what is now known about Baker’s attacks — and that they acted responsibly on what they knew.

Read more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette