Baker is accused of having killed his wife, allegedly so that he could more easily pursue “his latest conquest” -- a young woman in his church.
In anticipation of trial, prosecutors recently gave notice that they intend to present evidence that, during the course of his career, Matt Baker made sexual “advances,” “assaults,” and “approaches” on at least 13 young females, including 4 minors.
The prosecutors’ notice comes as no surprise because private investigators had previously made known their own conclusion that Matt Baker spent years leading “a secret life as a sexual predator,” “harassing, and groping unsuspecting teenage girls and women.”
At every stage of Matt Baker’s ministerial career -- during those many years when he was allegedly groping and assaulting teen girls and women -- Matt Baker was working in churches, schools and organizations affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Yet, from that Baptist organization, we hear only a deafening silence.
Some of the allegations were reported to Baptist leaders, but no one warned anyone else. Matt Baker moved with ease from church to church, and no one ever stopped him.
This is something that Baptist officials should explain.
How could a man with so many reported abuse allegations nevertheless remain as a Baptist minister?
It’s a question that probably won’t be answered by the murder trial. But it’s a question that does deserve an answer.
Look at this recap of Matt Baker’s career, and ask yourself: Doesn’t the Baptist General Convention of Texas owe some explanation?
Matt started out as a ministerial student at Baylor University, which is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
“I didn’t want to be known as the man who ruined his career,” explained the pastor to a Texas Monthly reporter. (Incidentally, this career recap is gleaned from information gathered and reported by Texas Monthly, not from any information provided by any Baptist officials.)
In fact, Matt’s career moved upward after the allegations. He got a job at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, one of the most prestigious churches in Waco. It’s a church that is also affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Next, Matt got a job as pastor at Pecan Grove Baptist Church, which is also affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Didn’t anyone check his background? How could they have overlooked so many accusations?
Why couldn’t the Baptist General Convention of Texas find out about the string of sexual abuse allegations in its own affiliated churches and its own affiliated university (or about the fact that he was fired from the YMCA)?
But with Baptist ministers, it’s easy. Baptists have no effective system for even keeping records on clergy abuse allegations, much less for telling anyone about them. And they sure as heck don’t have any system for actually doing anything about them.
Many experts say that a sexual predator can become emboldened by a lack of consequences. Maybe. Maybe not. Matt Baker denies all allegations.
But wholly apart from the murder trial, doesn’t the Baptist General Convention of Texas owe some explanation to the young women and girls who made reports about Matt Baker? To the young women and girls who may have unduly suffered even after others had reported Matt Baker? To the families in the many churches where Matt Baker worked -- families whose teens and young women were left at risk by the do-nothing system of the Baptist General Convention of Texas?
For a CBS “48 Hours” video on this story, see my prior posting: “Baptist leaders must consider possible consequences.”