Soloff & Zervanos, P.C.
Free ConsultationAll calls answered 24/75 convenient locations
Click Here To Call Now
215-392-4217 Local
800-724-2323 Toll free
to Our Offices
Toggle Menu Email Contact
Toggle View Our Practice Areas

Pennsylvania AG charges 3 friars with abetting child sex abuse

In early 2013, a Franciscan friar committed suicide in the Pennsylvania monastery where he had been living. The friar, a man named Stephen Baker, had been accused of sexually molesting dozens of children in several states, and the list of accusers was getting longer by the day. If he had acted alone, Baker's suicide might have been the unfortunate end to an already devastating story.

But as is so often the case, Baker's crimes were abetted by other members of his religious order. Three of those men are now facing criminal charges, filed this week by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. The three Franciscan friars are accused of continuously allowing Baker access to children and failing to report him to police despite knowing that he was a sexual predator. In total, Baker likely abused more than 100 children that authorities know of.

Although civil lawsuits against the Catholic Church have been numerous, criminal cases have been nearly non-existent beyond charges against abusers themselves (when such charges can even be pursued). This is the "first time members of a Roman Catholic religious order have been charged with abetting an abuser," according to the New York Times.

Observers are hopeful that this case will be the start of a much larger effort to criminally punish clergy members who facilitated the crimes of abusers. Commenting on the charges, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said: "This is the missing piece. For years, there have been pledges of reform, but we still see the same deceitful practices because those who stay silent or lie to cover up have not been held accountable."

It is not enough to just go after the abusers themselves. These crimes occur because other clergy members and church officials willfully turn a blind eye or actively help cover them up. This indictment is a good start, but there is much work still to be done.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Philadelphia Office
1525 Locust Street
8th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Toll Free: 800-724-2323
Phone: 215-392-4217
Fax: 215-732-2289
Philadelphia Law Office Map

Reading Office
38 N 6th Street
Reading, PA 19601

Phone: 215-392-4217
Reading Law Office Map

Allentown Office
612 Hamilton Street
The Trifecta Building
2nd Floor
Allentown, PA 18101

Phone: 215-392-4217
Allentown Law Office Map

Lancaster Office
8 North Queen Street
Lancaster, PA 17603

Phone: 215-392-4217
Lancaster Law Office Map

Cherry Hill Office
457 Haddonfield Rd, Suite 540
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002

Phone: 215-392-4217
Cherry Hill Law Office Map