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New sex abuse suit filed against Los Angeles Archdiocese

June 3, 2010 |  3:53 pm

A 27-year-old man filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Archdiocese this week charging that the church failed to protect him from sexual abuse by former priest Michael Baker, who has since pleaded guilty to criminal charges of molesting children.

The man, identified as "John MG Doe" in the suit, alleged that Baker abused him for two or three years beginning when he was 12, while he was a student and altar boy at St. Columbkille parish in South Los Angeles. The church was aware of Baker's "dangerous propensities and tendencies as a child molester" but allowed the priest to have continued contact with children, the lawsuit alleges. The suit only identifies the alleged abuser as "Doe 4." Attorney Vince Finaldi said court filings at a later date would identify "Doe 4" as Baker.

The plaintiff is the younger brother of Luis C., one of the two boys Baker admitted molesting in his criminal case. The two brothers did not know of each other's abuse, Finaldi said. Luis C. settled his claim against the archdiocese for $2.2 million, according to Finaldi.

For church critics, Baker's case has come to symbolize the church's failings. Authorities have said he confessed to Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1986, after which Mahony, then a bishop, sent the priest to a treatment center and reassigned him to nine other parishes. Mahony has said Baker's case "troubles" him the most and publicly apologized for allowing the priest to remain in ministry.

Baker, who was sentenced to 10 years and four months in prison, has appeared before a federal grand jury investigating the archdiocese and Mahony's handling of abuse cases, sources have told The Times.

-- Victoria Kim