Former Catholic priest arrested in Costa Mesa

Michael Stephen Baker, a former Roman Catholic priest convicted of molesting two boys and released on parole in late September, was arrested on a parole violation Wednesday in Costa Mesa.

Baker served more than five years of a 10-year prison sentence for his 2007 conviction and was scheduled to be released in August. But the Los Angeles district attorney's office filed a petition to have him committed to a state hospital indefinitely as a sexually violent predator.

He was held until Sept. 30, when the district attorney's office asked the judge to dismiss the petition because the two incidents he was convicted of didn't fit the criteria for a sexually violent predator, Deputy Dist. Atty. Tracy Watson said.

Costa Mesa police were contacted Wednesday by Baker's parole agent to assist in his arrest at a local hotel, where Baker was apparently staying, said Costa Mesa police Lt. Mark Manley. Manley said he did not know how the former priest had violated parole.

Baker is expected to be transferred back to Los Angeles in a few days.

He ranks among the Los Angeles Archdiocese's most prolific child molesters, authorities have said. In his 26 years as a priest, he allegedly abused more than 20 youngsters and had confessed to Cardinal Roger M. Mahony in 1986.

Mahony, who was then a bishop, sent Baker to a treatment center in New Mexico and later reassigned him to a series of other parishes, where he allegedly victimized other children.

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