Defrocked LA Priest to Face New Sexual Abuse Charges

Sioux City Journal
December 13, 2006

Los Angeles (AP) -- Investigators have identified a second man molested as a child by a now-defrocked Catholic priest, and additional charges will be filed this week, a prosecutor said in court Tuesday.

Michael Stephen Baker, 58, has pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing a boy while the priest was living at a rectory. Prosecutors contend he molested the boy for more than a decade until 1995, beginning when he was 7.

The Los Angeles County prosecutor's office investigated and determined that a second victim was involved, Deputy District Attorney Marc Beaart said in Superior Court.

Outside court, Beaart declined to provide details but said the accuser did not come forward voluntarily.

Defense attorney Donald H. Steier said he was told the suspected molestation occurred in the 1990s, when the man was a teenager, but he did not have other details.

A date to set a preliminary hearing was postponed to Dec. 20, when Baker will be arraigned on the new charges. A judge then will decide whether there is enough evidence for Baker to stand trial.

Baker was arrested in January when he returned from a vacation in Thailand. He could face six years in state prison if convicted.

Six years ago, two brothers alleged that Baker molested them for a decade. Baker was removed from the ministry and eventually the archdiocese.

Baker's case is the latest involving allegations of clergy abuse that have tarnished the reputation of the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the nation's largest. On Dec. 1, the archdiocese said it would pay $60 million to settle 45 lawsuits by people who claimed they were abused by priests, but as many as 485 suits are still pending.


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