Thursday, October 20, 2022

Priest found guilty of raping 7-year-old

Father Joseph “Jack” Baker
Father Joseph “Jack” Baker, 60, has been convicted of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old boy in 2004 while he was serving as the priest at St. Mary Parish in Wayne. Baker became the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wayne in 1997 and held that position until 2008. During that time, Baker was also an administrator at Kevin and Norbert Parish in Inkster from 2003-2004 and Holy Family Parish in Inkster from 2003-2008.

Prosecutors alleged that Baker raped the boy in a church sacristy when the child was a second-grade student. Baker was found guilty of first-degree sexual conduct including sexual penetration with a person under 13 in Wayne County Circuit Court last Thursday by a Wayne County jury before Judge Bridget Hathaway. The victim, now 26, testified that he didn't tell anyone about the incident at the time because Baker told him afterward that the sexual assault was “his own sin.”

Baker is facing a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and will remain in custody in the Wayne County Jail until his sentencing hearing, scheduled for Nov. 5. State law required the revocation of his bail due to the age of the victim at the time of the incident. His attorney, Patrick Bagley, indicated that Baker would appeal the verdict.

Baker had been a pastor at St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford since 2008. He was also an administrator at St. Benedict Parish in Waterford Township in 2011. Baker studied at Michigan Technological University and Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He was ordained in 1993.

He was the associate pastor of St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills from 1993-1996 and of Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn from 1996-1997. 

Baker was also the campus minister at the Wayne State Medical School Campus Ministry from 1996-1997.

“I want victims of abuse to know they have an advocate in the Attorney General's office,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who charged Baker in 2019.  

“We are committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and that whenever we are able to pursue justice for a victim, we do so aggressively and relentlessly. 

“We must all commit to breaking down the walls of silence that so often surround sexual assault and abuse. Today's verdict is long-awaited justice,” Nessel said in a prepared statement.

The charge came after Nessel's office received a tip from the Archdiocese of Detroit, which received the original report and immediately reported it to Nessel's clergy abuse office.

The Archdiocese said there would be no comment on the issue until the case is “fully resolved.”