WATERFORD — Fr. Joseph (Jack) Baker was arrested and charged July 8 in connection with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's investigation into sexual misconduct among clergy in the state, the attorney general's office announced.

Special agents arrested Fr. Baker, 57, Monday morning in Wayne County. He has been charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct — sexual penetration with a person under the age of 13. He will be arraigned in 29th District Court in Wayne. 

On June 20, Fr. Baker was restricted from ministry and ordered to step aside from his parish, St. Perpetua in Waterford, where he has been pastor since 2008, after the Archdiocese of Detroit received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dating to the priest's early years in ministry. 

The archdiocese immediately reported the allegation to Nessel's office, which is conducting a statewide investigation into sexual abuse and misconduct in Michigan's seven Catholic dioceses. The attorney general's office then informed the archdiocese it should proceed with its canonical review, the archdiocese said.

While the investigation is ongoing, Fr. Baker “is prohibited from representing himself as a priest, wearing clerical attire or exercising any form of Church ministry,” the archdiocese said in a June 20 statement. “Like any cleric restricted from ministry in the Archdiocese of Detroit, he is monitored to ensure compliance with Church restrictions.”

Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Battersby is serving as temporary administrator of St. Perpetua Parish. 

Fr. Baker is the sixth priest with Michigan ties arrested in connection with the investigation. In May, Nessel announced the arrests of five other priests or former priests, including two with ties to the Archdiocese of Detroit, and the revocation of a counseling license of a sixth priest.

Fr. Baker, who studied at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, was ordained in 1993. He spent time as associate pastor of St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills (1993-96) and Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn (1996-97), simultaneously serving as campus minister at Wayne State University's medical school campus from 1996-97. 

From 1997 to 2008, Fr. Baker was pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wayne, and since 2008 has been pastor of St. Perpetua in Waterford. He also spent time as administrator of SS. Kevin and Norbert Parish (2003-04) and Holy Family Parish (2003-08), both in Inkster, and St. Benedict Parish in Waterford (2011).

Fr. Baker's restriction from ministry is in accord with the norms of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which the U.S. bishops issued in 2002. 

Individuals with knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy or other Church representatives are urged to contact local law enforcement and/or the Michigan Attorney General’s Office at (844) 324-3374 or aginvestigations@michigan.gov. Individuals also may contact the Archdiocese of Detroit by visiting protect.aod.org, calling the toll-free, 24/7 victim assistance line at (866) 343-8055 or by emailing vac@aod.org. There are no time limits or restrictions on individuals wishing to report abuse.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that was published June 20.


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