Los Angeles, CA – A former Roman Catholic priest who was convicted of molesting two boys in 1997 is set to be arraigned as part of a motion filed by L.A. County prosecutors to have the pedophile committed to a state hospital indefinitely after completing his prison sentence. Authorities have said the man ranks among the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s most prolific child molesters, allegedly abusing more than 20 children in his 26 years as a priest. Sadly, this case is just one of an epidemic of similar clergy abuse cases on the books around the country.
Clergy Abuse Update 5/25/12: This week, thousands of documents concerning nine Roman Catholic priests who settled a landmark clergy abuse lawsuit in 2006 were made public. The newly-released files provide a detailed look into the accusations, as well as reveal instances when members of the clergy were allowed to interact with children despite their superiors being aware of previous indiscretions. Click here to learn more.
Catholic Sexual Abuse Update 4/12/12: The number of reports of sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests skyrocketed by more than 15% last year, according to a recent audit released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In 2011, there were nearly 500 credible reports filed against Roman Catholic priests or deacons nationwide. Click here to learn more.
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Michael Stephen Baker, the former Roman Catholic priest who has served more than five years of a 10-year prison sentence for child molestation, was scheduled to be released from prison on August 18, but a petition filed with the L.A. County Mental Health Court means he will continue to be held while a judge reviews the case.
According to the L.A. Times, prosecutors will argue that Baker can be committed under a 2006 law that seeks to reduce the risk of sexual offender recidivism. The law requires that convicted sexual molesters be evaluated to determine whether their mental states warrant hospitalization after prison terms have been served.
After the petition was filed, Baker’s attorneys promptly filed a motion of their own in an attempt to have the petition dismissed and their client released from custody. If the petition is not dismissed, Baker will likely face a trial that will attempt to determine whether he should be committed to a state hospital indefinitely.
Throughout his 26 year career as a priest, Baker allegedly molested more than 20 young boys. According to court documents, Baker confessed his sins to then-Bishop Roger M. Mahoney. Instead of informing the authorities, Mahoney sent Baker to a treatment center in New Mexico and later shuffled him though a series of different parishes, where he allegedly abused a number of other minors.
In 2002, Baker was charged with at least 12 sex abuse crimes but the charges were dropped by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the state of California lacked the power to retroactively extend statutes of limitations. The court’s decision wiped out hundreds of potential clergy sexual abuse criminal prosecutions, and left the task of determining the validity of such cases to civil lawyers.
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