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Minister Accused of Molesting 2 Young Sisters

June 18, 1992|AMY LOUISE KAZMIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GLENDALE — The minister of a Highland Park church was charged Wednesday with seven felony counts of child molestation.

Authorities said Glendale resident Dwight Arthur Baker, 55, minister of the Highland Park Church of Christ, repeatedly molested two sisters, 5 and 7, over the past year.

Baker was charged with five counts of forcible child molestation, one count of forcible oral copulation and one count of forcible digital penetration for incidents that occurred in the church, in his Glendale apartment and in his car, Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Nishinaka said.

Police were alerted to the incidents Sunday after Baker took three children to the park after church services. Two of the children were sent out to play, but Baker kept the 7-year-old girl in the car with him and molested her there, Nishinaka said.

Afterward, the girls told their parents about the incidents for the first time and were taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital for an examination. The hospital notified police, and Baker was arrested Monday night, Glendale Police Investigator Sue Hodgeman said. He was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Glendale Municipal Court.

The allegations have stunned members of Baker's tiny congregation, which had dwindled to about 10 active members. Without their spiritual leader, members said they are planning to close the church temporarily.

"Every member of the congregation is very shocked," said Robert Reeves, who has been a member for about a year and a half.

Because the congregation is so small, Baker worked at the church only part time, Reeves said. He also worked at a department store.

An 82-year-old woman who has been a member of the church since 1946 said Baker has been at the church for more than a decade.

"He's the least likely person that this could have happened to," she said.

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