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3 Franciscan Ex-Leaders Charged In Pennsylvania Abuse Case

JOHNSTOWN (KDKA) -- Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane says a Franciscan friar, with an alleged history of child molestation was allowed by his supervisors to minister to young people.

Now those three supervisors are facing felony charges of child endangerment and conspiracy.

The late Stephen Baker, who after a long career that spanned from Minnesota to Michigan to Ohio and beyond, ended up in Hollidaysburg, Blair County, as a member of the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regulars, Province of the Immaculate Conception.

"These individuals knew that Brother Baker was a child predator and that Baker had faced allegations of child molestation in 1988 and again in 2000," said Kane.

Eventually, Baker taught religion and aided in sports programs at Bishop McCort High School in Johnstown.

But the grand jury says those supervisors, Giles A. Schinelli, 73, Robert J. D'Aversa, 69, and Anthony M. Criscitelli, 61, allowed him to be placed in inappropriate situations.

"It is alleged that D'Aversa was aware of Brother Baker's alleged sexual interest in children and permitted him to continue to minister at Bishop Mccort," Kane said. "It's alleged that Schinelli was aware of a recommendation made that Baker was not permitted to have contact, one-on-one contact with children, and he not be permitted overnight visits with children since 1991."

Baker committed suicide in 2013 after church officials in Youngstown, Ohio, announced settlements with 11 former students at John F. Kennedy High in Warren, Ohio.

They claimed inappropriate contact with him from 1986 to 1990.

But the grand jury heard plenty of evidence about his time at Bishop McCort High School and reached this conclusion:

"While there, the grand jury heard evidence that Baker molested over 100 children during his time in the Johnstown area," said Kane.

How did it happen?

"The desire to make sure that you protect your reputation, you protect your order and you protect the funds related to that order I think outweighed the desire to make sure that they cleared their house of sexual abuse," Kane said.

The three defendants all live out of state and are expected to turn themselves in to Pennsylvania authorities within the next week.

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