Man files clergy sex abuse lawsuit in Los Angeles

Associated Press/June 3, 2010

Los Angeles - The younger brother of a man who helped put a Roman Catholic priest behind bars for sexual abuse has filed a lawsuit alleging he was molested by the same priest, his lawyer said Thursday.

The plaintiff, now 27, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming the abuse began in 1994 when he was about 12 and continued for several years during trips with the priest around Southern California.

Both brothers were abused on those trips, but neither knew the other was being harmed and never spoke of the incidents until years later, said Vince Finaldi, an attorney for the younger brother.

"At night he'd go into one room and molest one kid and then go into the other room and molest the other kid," Finaldi alleged in an interview.

The lawsuit does not name the defendants and lists them only as John Does. Finaldi, however, said the suit targeted the Rev. Michael Baker along with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Cardinal Roger Mahony.

The archdiocese had not seen the lawsuit, but spokesman Tod Tamberg blamed Baker for deceiving Cardinal Mahony and other church officials about his sexual abuse of children.

"We all know from numerous reports that Michael Baker was a bad guy and a big liar and a supreme deceiver so we want to see the lawsuit and if there is any kind of pastoral outreach we can provide ... we will certainly do that," he said.

Attorneys said the plaintiff was the younger brother of a key witness against Baker during a 2007 trial that resulted in the conviction of the priest for molestation and a 10-year prison sentence.

The younger brother was not aware that his older brother was testifying at Baker's trial because the two weren't close and rarely spoke, Finaldi said.

The older brother settled a civil lawsuit with the archdiocese earlier this year for $2.2 million, the lawyer said.

Baker told Mahony in 1986 at a priests' retreat that he had molested two young boys from 1978 to 1985, according to church documents. Mahony did not notify police and sent Baker to a residential facility that treated priests for sexual abuse problems.

In the years that followed, Baker was assigned to nine parishes but was barred from having one-on-one contact with minors. He violated those restrictions three times, according to church personnel file summaries previously released by the archdiocese.

Baker was not removed from the priesthood until 2000, after two men filed a lawsuit alleging he sexually molested them between 1984 and 1999. The archdiocese settled that lawsuit for $1.25 million.

Baker was charged in 2002 with 34 counts of molestation involving six alleged victims, but those charges were dismissed a year later after the U.S. Supreme Court voided a California law that allowed the prosecution of cases involving acts that occurred before 1988.

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