Alleged Victim in LA Archdiocese Settlement: “I Want to Finally Put the Shame Back on the Church”

When he was 11 years old, Michael Duran says he was sexually abused by a now-defrocked priest, allegations against whom led to a $10 million settlement between the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and four alleged victims, including Duran.

"I want to finally put the shame back on the church. I've held it for almost 30 years. I kept their secret and I didn't do anything wrong," Duran said, adding that alleged abuse at the hands of Michael Baker lasted two years.

Duran was a parishioner at St. Hilary’s in Pico Rivera when the alleged molestation began.

"He groomed me so well, manipulated me before he put his hands on me, that he knew I wasn't going to tell anybody," Duran recalled.

"It started with him kissing me, touching me, putting my hands on him, that led to oral sex and ultimately he raped me."

Duran believes others in the church had to know.

"Even when he took me up to his room in the rectory, every time we went up there, there was always a secretary at the desk who looked at me and I would look at her like, help me," he said.


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The Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced on Tuesday that it will pay $9.99 million to settle four clergy sex abuse cases, all involving allegations against Baker.

The settlement in each of the four cases ranges from $995,000 to $4,000,000.

"I can let the legal battle go and move on with the rest of my healing and focus on myself now and my family," Duran said.

In 1986, Baker confessed to then Archbishop Roger Mahony that he'd molested two boys.

After reading recently released church documents, Duran is convinced he was one of the boys Baker told Mahony about.

"That's why I hold Mahony more responsible because he had the power and authority to do something about it, he had the power to look for me," Duran said.

Mahony later said that the victim was an undocumented immigrant whose family went back to Mexico, but Duran was born in the U.S. and has always lived in Southern California.

Noting the "extremely grave and serious situation," Mahony sent Baker for psychological treatment but eventually put him back in ministry, where he molested again.

In 2007, Baker was sentenced to 10 years and four months in prison. He was released in 2011 for time served and good behavior.

In his 26-year career, Baker is alleged to have molested more than 20 children.

News of the settlement came the day the Catholic Church’s top clergymen cast their first ballots in Rome to elect the next leader of the world’s 1 billion Catholics.

Despite urging from many Southern California Catholics to recuse himself from the conclave, Mahony was among the more than 100 cardinals to vote for the next pontiff.

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