A Franciscan priest who serves a Catholic church in Brooklyn Park has taken a leave pending an investigation in Pennsylvania of an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse of minors by a brother in his order.
The Rev. Bradley Baldwin, priest of the Church of St. Gerard, accepted a request Tuesday to take the leave from his order, the Franciscan Friars, according to a news release from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The leave will be in effect “pending further clarification of his level of supervision concerning” Brother Stephen Baker, who killed himself in 2013 after news reports that he sexually abused scores of boys in the 1980s, interim Archbishop Bernard Hebda wrote in a notice posted on the St. Gerard’s website.
It’s the second known Minnesota connection to the Baker case. Last week, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office charged the Rev. Anthony Criscitelli, 61, most recently of the Church of St. Bridget in north Minneapolis, with failing to properly supervise Baker despite knowing of the allegations against him. Two other members of the order also were charged with the same counts.
Baldwin served in parish ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Paul in Minneapolis from 1994 to 2000, then again from 2010 to now. Tom Halden, spokesman for the archdiocese, said Tuesday night that the archdiocese does not have information about Baldwin’s whereabouts and duties during the time in between those roles, but his order’s website shows that he worked in Pennsylvania.
Baldwin was interviewed during part of the Pennsylvania investigation, but has not been charged, nor has he been “accused or charged with any wrongdoing,” his supervisors said in a prepared statement. “It is with an abundance of caution that we have temporarily placed him on leave … pending further clarification,” the order’s Rev. J. Patrick Quinn said in a news release.
From 2002 to 2010 Criscitelli was responsible for overseeing “safety plans” for members accused of abusing children, and the assignment and discipline of all friars.
Baldwin also had a role in supervising those in the order.
“The Archdiocese has no record of any allegations of misconduct against him and I am unaware of anything in his file that would suggest that his ministry here has been anything less than exemplary,” Hebda wrote to St. Gerard’s parishioners.
The move is precedent-setting because it’s the first time top officials in a religious order have been charged in a sex abuse case, St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson said last week. Anderson settled an abuse claim against Baker in the early 2000s, forcing Baker out of ministry.