On June 20, 2019, the archdiocese announced that it had received the allegation against Baker and reported it “immediately” to the Michigan attorney general’s office. The archdiocese restricted Baker, then 57 years old, from all public ministry and started a canonical process against him.
McGrath told CNA the canonical process has not yet begun against Baker, pending the outcome of further legal action in Michigan court. He also noted Church efforts to improve child protection.
“Starting, probably in 2002 with the Dallas Charter, our archdiocese, like most dioceses around the country, started training people in child protection,” he said. “We look at it now, 20 years later, at the huge numbers we have trained. It was a big job but it has done its job.”
The Archdiocese of Detroit’s child protection website says the archdiocese has had “a robust safe environment program” since 2002 to help people identify situations where a child could be vulnerable to sexual abuse. The program trains clergy, employees, and volunteers on how to prevent and report the sexual abuse of minors.
Baker, the priest now convicted of rape, studied at Michigan Technological University. He was ordained a priest in 1993 after studies at the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary.
He served as associate pastor at several parishes and was a campus minister for Wayne State Medical School Campus Ministry from 1996-1997 before serving as pastor of St. Mary Parish from 1997-2008. He then served as pastor of St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford through 2019.
Allegations of recent abuse by Catholic clergy number about two dozen or fewer per year, according to reports from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.
However, there are many more new allegations of historic abuse from victims who are now adults. Statistical graphs of the dates of reported abuse incidents continue to show a bell curve: abuse by clergy peaked in the 1970s, then declined significantly in recent decades.