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Priest who molested boys called to testify in federal investigation of L.A. archdiocese


A former Los Angeles priest convicted of molesting boys has been called before a federal grand jury investigating how the L.A. archdiocese and Cardinal Roger Mahony handled priest abuse cases, a source told The Times.

Former priest Michael Stephen Baker informed Mahony two decades ago of his abusive acts but was allowed to remain in the ministry. His case has become a symbol of how the church transferred priests who abused young boys. He is now in U.S. federal custody, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing. [Updated, 2:43 p.m.: An earlier version of this post gave Baker's middle name as Steve.]

The news comes six months after The Times reported that the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles had launched a federal grand jury investigation into the response of the L..A. church into allegations of  molestation by priests in the archdiocese.

The probe is aimed at determining whether Mahony, and possibly other church leaders, committed "honest services fraud" by failing to adequately deal with priests accused of sexually abusing children, sources said.

Mahony's attorney has said Mahony is not a target of the federal inquiry, adding the cardinal was fully cooperating with federal officials.

As the Roman Catholic Church's highest-ranking official in Southern California, Mahony was dogged for years by allegations of covering up the sexual misconduct of priests. Two years ago the archdiocese agreed to pay $660 million to 508 people who accused priests of sexual abuse. The payout is the largest settlement in a scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church nationwide.

Baker in 1986 told Mahony that he had molested children, but he was allowed to remain in active ministry. Mahony sent Baker to a treatment center in New Mexico and later reassigned him to other parishes, where he allegedly victimized at least one other child.

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Michael Steve Baker, right, in court in 2007 with his attorney. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (35)

Baker is a convicted felon whose crimes were heinous. Can we believe anything he says? Mahoney has done everything he can to thwart the truth. Can we believe anything he says? I don't know. I just wish they would both go away. Forever.

Mahony is cooperating? That's new. Does his current definition of "cooperation" include withholding evidence, deceiving investigators, and condoning felonious behavior? His past "cooperation" included all these things. Has the cardinal really changed? Reasonable minds doubt it.

So--if --hypothetically speaking--the top people in the Archdiocese and/or the California Catholic Bishops--in various posts--knew--say by 1980--the situation was bad--they were facing criminal problems--what kept the AG of the State of CA itself--from investigating--or the LA/SF/Oak FBI? Why did the FBI never come to these seminaries--Diocesan and Religious--all up and down California--in 1982, say? People were talking, then--in 1982. There were sufficient leads for a criminal investigation(s) in 1982. But where was law enforcement--at the Federal and State level--in 1982 in CA? Why was there no response in 1982? What stopped the response of the CA AG and the CA FBI in 1982? Was it the same thing that stopped investigations in Boston--at the same time?

Mahony needs to go to jail before the pope recalls him. There is a special place in hell for these perpetrators and their protectors.

And on Sundays the people still pour into these churches with their children. Go figure!

I have been a catholic all my life. I attended catholic grade school, high school and college. It is truly disappointing that Mahoney--who is supposed to be a spititual leader is guilty of all this. Mahoney has a personal fortune in contributions--ask those who paid $50,000 a pop to fly to rome on his privte chartered jet for his coronation--let him turn over a few of those millions to the victims and pay for his own legal fees

Mahoney is going to prison I think. And he belongs there.

When are we ever going to hold Cardinal Mahoney responsible for his actions.??

and where was the pope in all of this????

Mahony should be personally investigated, and if he is found guilty, he should go to jail for life.

It should be noted that "Honest Services Fraud" is codified in Title 18 U.S.C. 1346, et seq.

There is only one reason for Roger Mahoney to protect a (fellow) pedophile!

Who has ever heard of honest services fraud?

I have been practicing law for 25 years and have never heard the term. It is clear that this is a BS charge trumped up by the US attorney to persecute church officials and get press coverage for himself.

If you molested a child--whether you are a government school teacher or Catholic priest--you should go to jail. But trumping up charges against church officials for the crimes of others to satisfy political ends in WRONG!

And shouldn't we believe this guy that he told the Cardinal? After all he is a convicted child molester!

FINALLY! I still don't believe Mahoney will testify under oath truthfully. This has been allowed to happen for years. The Church oraganized Treatrment Center for these errant priests has had almost a 0% success ratio. One announced as "cured"these predators go out and do the deed again. I hope we can see some real justice done here. The Diocese paying out money is not the solution.

The catholic church is a criminal organization and should be banned from the country.

Mahony is complicit in the crimes Baker committed after his confession. The day that a man such as Cardinal Mahony is in an orange jumpsuit in front of a jury, accused of aiding and abetting molestation, is the day that the skies have a chance of clearing. This Catholic scourge has been ongoing for centuries. Please, God, give us the strength and wisdom to make the needed correction.

I spoke at Baker's Sentencing Hearing on bahalf of one of his victims who could not be present that day. The look you see on his face in that photo is the look he gave me when I began my statement, "Your Honor, Father Michael Stephen Baker Is A Monster".
To many of you who read this article about this man Baker, as well as all the other Catholic Clergy who have perversely defiled Innocent Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults of Our Church, this is just another Roman Catholic Priest who, "strayed". But you see, I KNOW Everything He Did To Those Children; And I DO Mean, EVERYTHING. If I tried to write about it here, then the LA Times would delete my Post, so horrific were the tortures he forced on those little innocent ones who trusted him.
And anyone who thinks the skirts of the Prince Archbishop of Los Angeles, (Roger Michael Cardinal Mahony) are free of the filth that permeates this nightmare are deluding themselves. All Priest Perpetrators and Every Single One of Their Bishop Enablers Are Graceless Traitors To The Faithful, To The Roman Catholic Church and, Most Especially, To Our Crucified Lord.

That "Church" must be closed down. The HORRIFYING crimes committed in the cover of religion is so obvious!

Mahoney is just another in a long line of corrupt officials protecting a big business. Take away the Catholic Church's tax-exempt status and molestation by priests and cover-ups would end immediately.

I pray God forgives me but if the Cardinal new of these sexual molestations and then he let priest tend to other churches, he is just as guilty. He is guilty because he turned the other way.

Only the Church knows what happened, in this life or the next we will be held accountable for our actions.

I apologize if I offend anyone. I am a Catholic and I know I can not judge anyone. But this should not have happened. We live in a World were Evil reigns.

Prosecute Mahoney!
And so much for religions....

Pablo, you asked if we can believe anything Baker says. Evidently Baker told Mahony the truth. I don't know of Baker NOT telling the truth while under oath.

You wish Mahony and Baker would go away forever. Well, the pain will never go away for the victims, and we should be squarely around the victims whose sufferings undoubtedly linger.

When Rev Baker told Cardinal Mahony that he had abused children, he should have then resigned from the priesthood or forced to leave and Mahony should have notified the police. Unfortunately, this is all to common today and its not just the Catholic Church. I'm sure it is happening in other faiths as well except that it is being brushed under the table. I wonder though is why the victims never came forward until long after the abuse took place?

All are responsible, including the victims who failed to come forward long ago.
Something so terrible should never be covered up, but reported to the police at once.

Castrate or execute both of these indivuals
immediately. They deserve it.

I was in the seminary myself and got to know Cardinal Roger Mahoney personally. I have to say he is a bright leader and a great politician as well. He deals with very wealthy people and powerful people in the government. So it doesn’t surprise me to read that his attorney mentions that the cardinal is not a “target”. I can personally comment that trying to convict the Cardinal is almost like trying to convict George W Bush of abuse of power. It’s not going to happen in the near future. I can also say that while I was in the seminary, I learned the church is willing to sacrifice more than $500 million than to get rid of these priests since it’s desperately yearning for vocations.

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