Judge denies request by attorney representing priest facing rape charge

By Aileen Wingblad
Oakland Press
August 24, 2020

Father Joseph "Jack" Baker during a court appearance last summer in Wayne County.
Photo by Aileen Wingblad

St. Perpetua in Waterford
Photo by Aileen Wingblad

An attorney representing a Catholic pastor accused of a decades-old rape of a child was denied a request in court Monday to have certain witnesses stricken from the case.The request was denied by Wayne County Circuit Judge Bridget Mary Hathaway, court records show.

A trial date for Fr. Joseph "Jack" Baker is pending after the trial scheduled for last spring was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Baker, 58, is currently suspended from his duties at St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford due to the allegations. He’s charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct - sexual penetration with a person less than 13 years ago, which allegedly occurred in a storage room of St. Mary Catholic Church in Wayne in 2004.

The Oakland Press is not identifying the victim of the alleged rape due to the nature of the offense.

At a preliminary exam last year in 18th District Court in Westland, the alleged victim testified that the incident happened when he was a second-grader at the parish school. He said he was in the church’s storage room or sacristy when Baker sat him down and began talking to him, and then raped him.

“During that time, he put his hand down my pants and started to touch my genitalia,” he said. Soon after, he said, Baker put him over a table and raped him.

“I just remember looking at a crucifix across the table, wondering what was happening. I didn’t understand,” he said.

When the sex act ended, Baker told him not to tell anyone what happened because it was wrong and a sin, he said.

He also said that when he got home that day, he saw blood in his underpants so he threw them away.

He first disclosed the alleged rape to his girlfriend in October 2018, and then his father, he said. He was subsequently interviewed by Special Agent David Dwyre, who’s involved in investigating allegations of clergy abuse for the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

A number of Baker's supporters have claimed the allegation is false.

Baker is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Sept. 21. His lead attorney is Patrick Bagley. Prosecuting the case is Assistant Attorney General Alison Furtaw.



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