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New Abuse Charges Filed on Ex-LA Priest

May 1, 2003 | AP

Prosecutors filed five more felony sex abuse charges against a former Roman Catholic priest after a former altar boy came forward to say the cleric molested him at least 168 times before he turned 18.

Michael Stephen Baker, 55, now faces a total of 34 felony charges. He is already scheduled to stand trial on 13 counts of lewd acts upon a child under age 14 and 16 counts of oral copulation with a minor.

Baker has pleaded innocent.

The new counts stem from testimony during a preliminary hearing by alleged victim Matthew Severson, 35, who said he was repeatedly abused by Baker in church rectories. He said the abuse began when he was 7 or 8.

Baker declined to comment Wednesday. His arraignment was postponed until May 20 so his lawyer, Donald Steier, can review the preliminary hearing transcript.

Steier said it was unlikely that a jury would be swayed by the five new charges.

``When Mr. Severson was testifying, he estimated a lot of different things. He was unable to provide specifics,'' Steier said.

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