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Organization seeking answers to alleged abuse at Bishop McCort
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- As the attorneys for the alleged victims of Brother Stephen Baker continue to form their cases and seek out who knew what and when, an organization that helps victims of sexual abuse is seeking the truth themselves.
Road to Recovery was in Johnstown Wednesday, urging alleged victims and anyone at Bishop McCort Catholic High School who knew something to come forward.
Luke Bradescu was 29 years old when he took his life. For 11 years, his family struggled to figure out why.
"What was wrong?" his mother, Barbara Aponte asked through tears Wednesday. "He seemed happy, he knew he was loved. We knew he loved us."
It wasn't until this past January when allegations against Baker surfaced and many of Bradescu's old high school friends in Ohio came forward, that Aponte
"The story broke and it was like a flood of images and memories, things that seemed so insignificant just popped out," said Aponte. "I was like, 'Oh my God. This is it."
Aponte's been working with Road to Recovery, an organization that helps victims of sexual abuse and an organization that's actively working to seek those who may have covered up alleged misconduct by Baker while he worked as a teacher, coach and trainer at schools in several states.
"I would like to sit across the table from the people that made the decision to transfer this guy to one set of victims and turn my son into a victim (who is) dead now," said Aponte.
The group was in Johnstown Wednesday, meeting with the media and talking with alleged victims from Bishop McCort.
"Believe me, they knew," said Dr. Robert Hoatson, co-founder and president of Road to Recovery. "There are people there who knew and know and they're still there."
Specifically mentioned was Ken Salem, the former football coach turned principal, who was at the school in the 1990s as Baker served as the athletic trainer.
"Who's going to go against the football hero? Or the football coach hero? Or the principal now?" asked Hoatson. "If a teacher goes to the principal and he's a friend of Brother Baker, they're going to lose their jobs or they're going to fear they'll lose their jobs."
Salem was placed on administrative leave shortly after the allegations surfaced in January and then resigned from his position in June.
A spokesperson for the current board of Bishop McCort sent 6 News this statement Wednesday:
"Since the day the school was privatized, the Bishop McCort Board of Trustees has been committed to ensuring that the School provides a safe environment for its students. That is why this Board continues to undertake a substantive internal investigation, hired the most highly regarded counsel, and has followed up with aggressive legal action to ensure all facts are brought to light and that all individuals involved are held accountable. Bishop McCort will continue to take the actions necessary to protect our students and the School."