Archdiocese of Detroit Priest Sentenced With 3 to 15 Years of Imprisonment Following Sexual Abuse to A Second-Grader


Fr. Joseph "Jack" Baker of the Archdiocese of Detroit in Michigan was sentenced to three to 15 years in prison after raping a second-grader student of the school attached to the parish. In 2019, the now-adult child revealed to his parents that the priest had sexually abused him in 2004.

Sexual Abuse of Fr. Joseph "Jack" Baker

The 61-year-old defendant, Father Joseph "Jack" Baker, was given a prison sentence ranging from three to 15 years on Wednesday, March 1, in the 3rd Circuit Court of Wayne County in Detroit. According to the Catholic News Agency, in October of 2022, he was found guilty of sexual intercourse with a minor, violating the first degree of the Criminal Conduct Act. However, the attorney of Fr. Baker stated that his client intended to file an appeal against the decision.

In 2004, the victim was in the second grade at St. Mary Catholic School in Wayne, Michigan, and Fr. Baker was the priest of St. Mary Catholic Parish, where the alleged incident occurred. The victim stated that during the devotional program after school, he was instructed to retrieve a book from the church sacristy. Then the cleric raped him over a table. In 2019, the victim, who is now in the middle of his 20s, informed his parents about the incident. As mentioned, the archdiocese was provided with a report of the allegation in June 2019 and immediately forwarded it to the Office of the Attorney General in Michigan.

The director of public affairs at the Archdiocese of Detroit, Ned McGrath, told CNA that its response to the complaint aligns with the measures it has taken for over 20 years. "We don't review any complaints when they first come in. We pass them on immediately," he said.

According to The Oakland Press, Fr. Baker was accused following an investigation by the Attorney General's Office, initiated in 2019 after the victim's father disclosed his son's allegation to the Archdiocese of Detroit.  The victim of Fr. Baker testified in the hearing that it took him until he was in his late teens before he understood what had happened to him and that the sexual abuse caused him to suffer from psychological issues. 

Also Read:Diocese of San Diego Rejects Lawsuit's Allegations of Hiding Assets from Sexual Abuse Victims

Do Priests Get Away With Sexual Abuse?

According to Pintas & Mullins, since the publication of a groundbreaking study, Bishop Accountability has compiled a list of over 6,400 priests and other Catholic Church personnel accused of sexual abuse. However, no database records how many priests have been prosecuted for child abuse. Despite this, most instances involving sexual abuse by clergy have not been brought before a criminal court for various reasons.

Moreover, it is still difficult for many victims to talk about the trauma they experienced at the hands of abusive adults in the Catholic Church, let alone come forward with their stories. Since the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published a study in 2004 (which was updated in 2010) that focused on the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests and deacons, efforts have been made to determine the scope of the abuse, provide support for victims, and hold perpetrators of the abuse accountable. These efforts have continued even after the study was released. John Jay College was responsible for conducting the survey. Since then, many organizations have begun keeping records and have increased their efforts to investigate allegations of mistreatment.

Furthermore, while it is difficult to determine how many priests have been prosecuted for child abuse, the number continues to rise as more allegations are reported. More clergy members are held accountable for their actions.

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