Case Continues for Ex-Priest
Hearing Moved for Man Accused of Molesting 2 Boys

By Ruby Gonzales
Whittier Daily News
November 17, 2007

LOS ANGELES - A former priest accused of molesting two boys he met while serving at churches in Pico Rivera and Los Angeles will return to court Nov. 30.

Clad in an orange Los Angeles County Jail jumpsuit, Michael Stephen Baker, 59, appeared Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court for a hearing. However, the matter was continued and Baker's case transferred to another courtroom.

He allegedly molested the two boys from Jan. 1, 1994, to Sept. 3, 1998, according to the criminal complaint. Prosecutors have charged him with nine counts of oral copulation of a person under 18, one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object and three counts of sodomy of a person under 18.

Baker was being held at the Men's Central Jail in lieu of $800,000 bail.

His lawyer, Donald Steier, declined comment.

Baker met one of the boys, who was then 7, when he was at St. Hilary in Pico Rivera. He allegedly molested the boy from 1984 to 1995, said Deputy District Attorney Marc Beaart.

The boy and his family moved back to Mexico but Baker visited them. He also took the boy on trips to Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Arizona.

Sheriff's Detective Mario Loffredo said Baker met the second boy at St.

Columbkille in Los Angeles. This boy was reportedly molested from March 1, 1996, to Sept. 3, 1998.

Deputies arrested Baker on Jan.19, 2006, at Los Angeles International Airport after he returned from a trip to the Far East.

He's been in custody since then.

Frank Zamora, 62, of La Mirada said he's made a point to be at every court hearing of Baker's. He said his younger son, Dominic, was molested by Baker when he was an altar boy at St. Paul of the Cross in La Mirada.

He said his son was one of the plaintiffs in the civil suits against the Los Angeles Archdiocese settled earlier this year.

"Every time we come, it's always postponed," Zamora said. "I'm here every time ... because I want to see him go to jail. He ruined so many lives."

Baker has been accused of molesting children before.

In 2003, prosecutors filed 34 counts of sexual misconduct with a child against Baker for allegedly molesting a former altar boy at St. Hilary and at St. Paul of the Cross 30 years ago.

The alleged incidents happened at the two churches and at a condominium in Palm Desert.

The former altar boy, Matthew Severson, testified that the alleged abuse happened when he spent the nights at the rectory. It started when he was 8 and ended when he was 19.

But the charges against Baker and other priests accused of molestations were dismissed in 2003 after the Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot retroactively erase statutes of limitations. The statute of limitations on sex crimes in 1975 was six years.



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