Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Los Angeles Archdiocese Faces yet Another Sexual Abuse Lawsuit


There has been yet another sexual abuse lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. This one was filed by a 27-year-old man, who alleges that the church failed to protect him from abuse perpetrated by former priest Michael Baker.

The unidentified man says he was abused by Baker for three years. The abuse began when he was a 12-year-old boy. At the time, he was an altar boy at the St. Columbkille Parrish in Los Angeles. The plaintiff here is the brother of a man, who the former priest admitted to molesting during a criminal case. That victim identified as Lewis C. has since settled a sexual abuse lawsuit with the Archdiocese for $2.2 million.

Michael Baker has pleaded guilty to criminal charges of child molestation. His case has proved to be a thorn in the side of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Known as Father Mike, Baker was a popular priest, but his sunny personality concealed an evil side. Prosecutors charged that the priest molested two boys between 1994 and 1998, while he served at churches in Los Angeles and Pico Rivera.

In 1986, Baker apparently confessed to Cardinal Roger Mahony. The Cardinal, instead of defrocking the priest, sent him to psychotherapy sessions. After he returned from therapy, Cardinal Mahony simply reassigned Baker to at least nine other parishes. The criticism against Cardinal Mahony has been swift and furious, and the Cardinal has been forced to apologize for his error in allowing Baker to stay on at the Ministry. Baker was removed from the priesthood in December 2000. But that has hardly dulled the criticism against Cardinal Mahony, who says that Baker's case ”troubles” him the most.

There has been a common pattern that has emerged in the clergy sexual abuse scandal. The perp priest, the benevolent Bishop/Cardinal/insert any other senior clergy member who chooses to look the other way, the psychotherapy and rehabilitation treatment programs, the reassignment to other, usually smaller churches, until the whole thing explodes in their faces and they face the police, a furious public, and a sexual abuse attorney.

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