Former area priest arrested

first_imgA former Catholic priest who in 2003 managed to avoid prosecution for allegedly sexually abusing children at churches in La Mirada and Pico Rivera was in custody Friday in connection with what authorities indicated is a separate child molestation case. Michael Stephen Baker, 58, was arrested at 2 p.m. Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport on suspicion of committing lewd acts with a child, said Sgt. Dan Scott of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau. The arrest “is in connection with the ongoing investigation into allegations of child molestation involving present and former Catholic priests in the Los Angeles Archdiocese,” the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. An earlier criminal case against Baker was dismissed in 2003 because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision barring prosecution of decades-old sexual-abuse cases. Baker was arrested as he returned from a tour of Thailand and several other countries, Scott said. Investigators also searched Baker’s residences in Huntington Beach and La Mirada on Thursday. The District Attorney’s Office said a decision on charges will be made Monday, and an arraignment will be scheduled early next week. Baker’s bail was set at $1 million. The Los Angeles Times reported in October that investigators had opened a new probe into Baker, focusing on two brothers who said he molested them beginning in 1984, when they were 5 and 7, and continuing until 1999. The probe into those allegations had been hindered because the brothers now live in Mexico, but investigators obtained visas last spring so the brothers could be interviewed in Arizona. Officials would not confirm whether Baker’s arrest Thursday was in connection with the brothers’ allegations. Baker told Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1986 that he had molested children, according to the archdiocese and Baker. The archbishop did not alert police, but rather sent Baker for treatment, after which he was assigned to a series of nine other parishes. “Cardinal Mahony has already acknowledged and apologized for the mistakes made in handling Father Michael Baker,” the diocese noted in a 2004 report. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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