”When her parents arrived, they accompanied Lora back to the stadium to meet with Sims. Once Lora explained what had happened, Matt was called into Sims’s office. 'Matt admitted what he’d done, but he said he didn’t realize he was hurting me,' she said. But there was no doubt that Lora had attempted to fight him off, attested to by the bite mark on his shoulder.
'This will be taken care of,' Sims assured her, saying she didn’t need to involve the police. Lora and her parents agreed to let the university handle the situation.. . . . [“The university” is Baylor, a school affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.]
Lora returned to the campus after Christmas break… When she reported for work at the stadium, Matt was there, and it appeared his only punishment was to be confined to the training room to work with the players. ‘That was something that usually only the seniors were able to do,’ Lora says. ‘It wasn’t a punishment. It was more of a promotion.’
For Lora, the effects of Matt Baker’s attack lingered. She dropped out of athletic training and left Baylor before the semester ended. Months later, she was asked to put her recollection of the events in writing for Matt’s file. She did so. At the time, she was told there’d been another episode with Matt. . .
Departing Waco and Baylor, however, didn’t end Lora’s suffering. For years after, she endured nightmares in which it happened all over again . . . . Such nights, Lora woke up terrified. . . .
Were there any ramifications for Matt? . . . The university and Mike Sims would later refuse comment, so there would be nothing by which to judge their actions but the results. The undeniable consequence of the attack was that no one at Baylor filed a police report . . . and Matt Baker was allowed to continue at the university.
Perhaps it would have been expected that Matt would have learned from what he’d done, but then, he’d apparently suffered no punishment, so why should he change his ways? If Baylor had taken action, made sure that he was charged with a crime, Matt might have been held accountable. But they didn’t, and he wasn’t, and the following January, just weeks after Baker’s attack on Lora Wilson, he was home in Kerrville. It was there that he struck up an old friendship with Dina Ahrens . . . . Dina would later testify about what happened that night . . . It took all her physical strength to keep her clothes on. Why did Baker finally stop? According to Ahrens, it was only because he heard her mother at the door. . . .
Meanwhile, all continued to go well for Matt Baker. . . . The month after Wilson accused him of assault, no one from the university apparently protested when Matt was given a highly coveted position, an internship in the recreation department at the First Baptist Church of Waco, the premier church in the city, one tightly tied to Baylor. Perhaps they didn’t realize or maybe they didn’t care that at the church Matt’s duties would include working in the recreation center and at the summer youth camp, often around young, vulnerable women.
The man who hired him, Jake Roberts, was one of Matt’s teachers at Baylor… who also worked at First Baptist. . . .
In Texas, many [Baptist churches] belong to the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) at the state level and the Southern Baptist Convention at the national level…. Says a former member of the BGCT’s board: ‘We can’t tell them whom to hire. Basically, to be called a pastor of a Baptist church, all you have to do is have a church vote to hire you.’. . . .
When it comes to ministerial misconduct. . . ‘Many [Baptist churches] just fire the offending pastor or ask him to find something else and move on,’ says a former BGCT employee. ‘They want to get rid of their problem. They don’t worry about where that pastor goes next and what he might do once he’s there.’ . . .
It would later be unclear whether anyone at First Baptist reported to the BGCT regarding the allegations against Matt Baker since BGCT would refuse requests for records. . . .
Concerned about Baker, Roberts… took an additional step, writing a report on all that had transpired and putting it in First Baptist’s safe . . . . [where it certainly didn’t function to keep anyone else any safer]
Later it would be difficult to pin down dates when Matt Baker worked at particular churches since few kept records. According to Matt’s resume, his first church position after First Baptist Waco was as a part-time youth and music minister working under the pastor at … First Baptist of Robinson . . . . Like so many of his jobs, his position in Robinson was short-lived, less than a year.. . .
In the summer of 1996, after losing the job in Robinson, Matt worked as recreation director at the prestigious Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in downtown Waco. . . . Matt’s sojourn as assistant recreation director, however, lasted only four months. . . .Yet, that fall, Matt was given another plum job, to pastor Pecan Grove Baptist, a small country church outside Waco. Pecan Grove was known as a good assignment for Truett students, a place where the seminary’s stars were groomed for the future . . . .”
Baptist pastor Matt Baker was convicted of murder in January 2010. At the time of his trial, prosecutors said they were prepared to put on evidence of at least 13 young women, including four minors, toward whom Baker had made sexual assaults and inappropriate “advances.” Here is a list of the many churches, schools and organizations where Baker worked, as they were reported by Texas Monthly magazine. Notably, almost all of them are affiliated with the same umbrella organization, the Baptist General Convention of Texas – an organization that is obviously lost in oblivion on the need for effective systems of clergy accountability. Indeed, even after multiple allegations, it was Baptists’ endorsement of Baker as a chaplain that allowed him to still get a job working with vulnerable kids at the Waco Center for Youth. If only Baptists had held Matt Baker accountable from the start, and precluded him from carrying the mantle of trust as a Baptist minister, perhaps the murder of a vibrant young woman could have been avoided, and almost certainly, numerous girls and young women could have been spared the savagery of sexual abuse and assault. Read the book.