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Lawyer: PA Church Shouldn’t Cancel Settlement Talks

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HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A lawyer representing 33 alleged victims of clergy sex abuse in central Pennsylvania is urging the Roman Catholic church not to pull out of planned mediation.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said Sunday the withdrawal will re-traumatize his clients and prevent them from healing. Talks had been scheduled to take place this week in Philadelphia.

The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown said Friday that it’s suspending settlement talks until state authorities finish their investigation of Brother Stephen Baker.

The Franciscan friar worked at Johnstown’s Bishop McCort High School from 1992 to 2001. He committed suicide last year after being linked to abuse claims in Ohio.

A church spokesman said Sunday the diocese “intends to resume the settlement efforts” when it’s appropriate.

Advocates for Baker’s alleged victims are holding a news conference Monday in Hollidaysburg.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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