Michigan attorney general charges sixth priest with criminal sexual conduct

Rev. Joseph Baker accused of sexually assaulting person under 13 years old

WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Michigan's attorney general has charged a priest who spent the last 26 years at several churches around Metro Detroit with criminal sexual conduct.

Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Rev. Joseph H. Baker is the sixth priest charged with criminal sexual conduct in the ongoing investigation into clergy abuse within the Catholic Church.

Baker, 57, was arrested Monday morning in Wayne County by special agents from the attorney general's office, Nessel said. He will be arraigned Monday in 29th District Court in Wayne.

Baker is charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct -- sexual penetration with a person under 13 years old.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Nessel said. "Our clergy abuse investigative team is working day and night to review the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and files seized from all seven of Michigan’s dioceses last fall. At the same time, we continue to receive calls daily from victims who know we will listen to them, believe in them and investigate their allegations. They deserve nothing less than our very best."

Baker restricted from public ministry

Baker has been restricted from all public ministry amid allegations that he sexually abused a minor, officials said.

The alleged sexual abuse happened during the earlier years of his ministry, according to the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Baker is not allowed to represent himself as a priest, wear clerical attire or exercise any form of church ministry while restricted, officials said.

Baker will be monitored to make sure he's complying with the restrictions, officials with the archdiocese said.

Auxilary Bishop of Detroit Gerard Battersby has been named temporary administrator of St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford Township, where Baker was assigned as pastor.

Anyone with information about sexual abuse by clergy or church representatives is asked to call police or the Michigan Attorney General's Office at 844-324-3374.

Baker's career history

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.

He became the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Wayne in 1997 and held that position until 2008. During that time, Baker was an administrator at Kevin and Norbert Parish in Inkster from 2003-2004 and Holy Family Parish in Inkster from 2003-2008.

Baker has been a pastor at St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford Township since 2008. He was also an administrator at St. Benedict Parish in Waterford Township in 2011.

Five other former priests charged

Baker's arrest follows a May 24 announcement that five former priests had been charged with a combined 21 counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Timothy Michael Crowley was charged in Washtenaw County with four felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Crowley was arraigned June 29 in Washtenaw County. A probable cause conference is scheduled for July 30.

Neil Kalina was charged in Macomb County with four felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Kalina was arraigned June 20 in Macomb County. A probable cause conference is scheduled for July 9.

Vincent DeLorenzo was charged in Genesee County with three felony counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and three felony counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

DeLorenzo was arraigned June 18 in Genesee County. A probable cause conference is scheduled for Aug. 1.

DeLorenzo has been released on bond.

Patrick Casey was charged in Wayne County with one felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Casey waived his preliminary examination and is scheduled to be arraigned July 18 in Wayne County's 3rd Circuit Court.

Casey has also been released on bond.

Jacob Vellian is charged with two counts of rape. The attorney general's office is pursuing extradition of Vellian, who lives in India.

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.