Father Wilfred “Bill” Baker – Archdiocese of Melbourne Child Abuse
Generally, priests are thought to be holy people incapable of committing immoral acts, especially toward children. Given this unjustified perception, many priests are wholly trusted by children and their parents without much regard or doubt. Unfortunately, this led to tragic & unspeakable sexual abuse of children committed by these trusted priests. One of these priests is Father Wilfred “Bill” Baker.
Who is Father Wilfred “Bill” Baker?
Father Wilfred “Bill” Baker is a Melbourne-born priest. He was born in 1936 to a well-to-do family and attempted to study medicine at the University of Melbourne before he quit and pursued training for the priesthood.
He was ordained by the Catholic Church in 1961 and was a member of the Melbourne Archdiocese. After being ordained by the Church, he has been assigned to numerous parishes in the following communities: Jordanville, Balaclava, Mordialloc, East Brighton, Doveton, Gladstone Park, Eltham, and North Richmond.
In 1991, Father Baker was forced to take an “administrative leave” when overwhelming claims of sexual conduct were reported to the Archdiocese of Melbourne. He was found to have committed sexual abuse against children during his assignment in the parishes located in Jordanville, Balaclava, Mordialloc, East Brighton, Doveton, Gladstone Park, and Eltham.
Father Baker was assigned in Jordanville between 1962-66, in East Brighton between 1966-68, Mordialloc between 1968-69, Balaclava between 1969-71, a hospital chaplain between 1971-74, Doveton between 1974-75, Gladstone Park between 1975-78, Eltham between 1978-92, and North Richmond 1992-99.
How Did the Archdiocese of Melbourne Handle the Extensive Sexual Abuse Complaints Against Father Baker?
Initially, the Archdiocese of Melbourne actively covered up the numerous sexual abuse complaints filed by parishioners against Father Baker by moving him to a new location instead of involving authorities and allowing the priest to face criminal charges. Thus, the problem priest’s crimes remain a secret from unsuspecting parishioners.
A covert cover-up is evidently shown by assigning Father Baker to work as a chaplain in hospitals from 1971-to 74. This practice is a well-known strategy of the Church to isolate troubled priests before transferring them to a new parish.
One of the initial complaints against Father Baker was filed by a family from Gladstone in 1978. A sexual abuse complaint was filed with the chairman of the parish school board, claiming that the deviant priest had committed sexual abuse crimes against a boy named Damien. However, instead of reporting the claim to the authorities, Archibishop Frank Little of the Archdiocese of Melbourne sent a representative of the Church to dissuade Damien’s family from pursuing legal action against Father Baker. Soon after, the Archdiocese of Melbourne re-assigned the priest to a new location.
Unsurprisingly, Father Baker had committed sexual abuse offences against children during his tenure at his following assigned location at Eltham between 1978-92. However, the families of his victims rightfully pursued action against the Archdiocese of Melbourne for negligence. They claimed that the Archdiocese was aware and actively assisted in covering up Father Baker’s propensity for committing sexual abuse against children and thus shared the liability for the crimes committed by the priest.
Eventually, the Archdiocese of Melbourne had to force Father Baker to take administrative leave in 1999 after they could no longer cover up the overwhelming complaint against the deviant priest.
Father Baker was laicised by the Church while serving his sentence in 2012.
In 2022, the Archdiocese of Melbourne was sued in civil court by one of Father Baker’s victims. The victim sought damages for the Church’s negligence by covering up Father Baker’s sexual abuses has directly led to more children being abused by the immoral priest.
Was Father Wilfred “Bill” Baker Convicted?
Yes. Father Baker had pleaded guilty to 16 counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency committed to eight boys between the ages of 10 to 13.
In July 1998, Father Baker was charged with child sex offences. Unfortunately, he was only sentenced to four years of imprisonment with eligibility for parole within two years despite the numerous heinous crimes he had committed against innocent children.
Father Baker died on February 14, 2014, while serving his short sentence. He was also due to appear in court early in 2014 to face additional child sexual abuse charges before he died.
We Can Help With Your Child Sexual Abuse Compensation Claim
If you or a loved one has fallen victim to Father Bill Baker’s sexual abuse or any sexual abuse committed by a member of the Melbourne Archdiocese, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
If you would like to talk to one of our historical sexual abuse specialists about your legal options for free and in confidence, please feel free to contact us at (02) 9283 5599 or complete the form below with the best way and time for us to reach you.
Here at Koffels, we are dedicated to preserving and fighting for the rights of the abused. It does not matter how much time has passed since the abuse has happened. We firmly believe that all abuse suffered by innocent children deserves justice.
If you or someone you know would like to talk to one of our historical sexual abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to either complete the form below with the best way and the best time to contact you, or you can call us on 02 9283 5599.