St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church—Clergy Sexual Abuse in La Mirada, CA
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Church Sexual Abuse at St. Paul of the Cross in La Mirada
The clergy sexual abuse Michael Stephen Baker perpetrated at St. Paul of the Cross Catholic Church included sexual assault (kissing, touching a child’s genitals, masturbating in front of a child, and oral copulation). Further, Baker “cajoled” the children by taking them on vacations, giving gifts and money, making lewd comments, and having the children sleep in his bed.
Known as “Father Mike” at the time, Michael Baker served as associate pastor at St. Paul of the Cross Parish from 1976 to 1982. In 1986, Baker admitted to Cardinal Roger Mahoney that he had sexual relationships with two minors. Mahoney sent Baker to Jemez Springs, New Mexico, to participate in 9 months of psychotherapy. Records from this time indicate that he rejected the consequences of the abuse, stating, “it was kind of like kid stuff, just playing around.” He said, “It wasn’t breaking my celibacy because it wasn’t an adult.”
The Archdiocese Allowed Baker To Continue in Priestly Ministry
Once he finished his “sick leave,” Baker returned to service in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, stipulating that he not be alone with minors or engage in ministry to minors. Regardless, evidence surfaced in 1989 that Baker broke his agreement with the Archdiocese and had been alone with a minor for “pastoral counseling.” Because he claimed to have worked through the issue with his therapist, the Archdiocese allowed him to continue in ministry.
In 1995, another priest saw Baker with several kids from a family digging a ditch for an electrical line. The family later said Baker charmed them using typical grooming techniques. He used his ministry to stay close to the family and called the son at least once from Sweden. Because Baker and the children were seen in public, the Archdiocese took no action.
However, in 1996, Baker was discovered with a minor as his “guest” in the rectory. In response, the Archdiocese placed him on a one-year sabbatical to attend therapy. Still, he was able to return to ministry thereafter. Allegations of Baker sexually abusing chidlren continued to surface. In 2000, two brothers came forward and reported Baker abused them from 1984 through 1999, from when they were five and seven until they were 19 despite Baker’s claim that he had not been with children during this time. Moreover, Baker did not mention his ongoing years of abuse of the brothers when he made his “confession” in 1986, or anytime thereafter.
Results of the Church Abuse Claim
Because these boys spoke out against Baker, Mahoney, and the Archdiocese, Baker was finally laicized (dismissed from the priesthood) in 2000. As a result of their case, the Archdiocese released the Clergy Files containing secret communications within the Archdiocese about Baker and reports of him sexually abusing children. Memos and letters evidence that the Archdiocese knew of past allegations, Baker’s proclivity for young boys, and the risk he posed to children, yet it continued to assign Baker to parishes without disclosing past allegations of abuse to parishioners. E-mails show that the Archdiocese contemplated warning the congregation about Baker in October 2000. However, fearing backlash, it delayed the announcement until April 2002. Archdiocese documents on Baker and dozens of other predator priests are available on Boucher LLP’s website. It should be noted, these documents contain explicit details of childhood sexual abuse and may be triggering for anyone who has experienced similar abuse..
Boucher LLP: Helping Survivors Tell Their Stories
If you experienced childhood sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic Clergy, especially at St. Paul of the Cross church or school in La Mirada, California, you have a chance to make a difference. When you call our office, we will listen to you. Then, we will explain the path toward attaining justice and ending future abuse and cover-ups. You may have a church abuse claim even if the abuse happened years ago, but you have a limited window to come forward. You don’t need to suffer in silence any longer. Call Ray Boucher and his team of compassionate attorneys and speak up today.