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Former La Mirada Priest Pleads Innocent To Molestation Charges

Oct 17, 2002 | AP

A former priest who moved from parish to parish after admitting to Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony that he molested boys pleaded innocent Thursday to charges that he molested a boy in the 1970s and 1980s.

Michael Stephen Baker, 54, was released from jail after posting $800,000 bail. He is next scheduled to appear in Downey Superior Court on Nov. 26, when a preliminary hearing date is to be set.

Baker has been charged with 13 counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14, and 16 counts of oral copulation with a minor.

He also had been accused of sexual misconduct by two brothers who are now adults and live in Arizona. The brothers previously reached a $1.3 million out-of-court settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Many of the alleged crimes occurred at the rectory of St. Paul of God Church in La Mirada, authorities said. In 1986, Baker told Mahony that he had molested young boys and was reassigned to several parishes after attending a treatment center for pedophile priests.

Baker retired from the priesthood in 2000. Mahony has since issued a public apology for allowing him to remain in the ministry after admitting his abuse.

"He was removed from ministry by Cardinal Mahony," said church spokesman Tod Tamberg. "He is no longer a priest of the archdiocese."

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