Former Eastview Christian Church leader’s son used influence as pastor to prey on women: report

Caleb Baker was most recently a pastor at Central Christian Church in Arizona. | YouTube/Eastview Christian Church

Independent investigators for Eastview Christian Church in Illinois have concluded that Pastor Caleb Baker used his position in the church to "persuade women to engage in sexual activity" while his father and the church's Senior Pastor Mike Baker likely used his position to cover the sins of his son.

The conclusions were made public in an 11-page report produced by attorneys from the law firm Wagenmaker & Oberly about three months after being hired by the church to investigate Caleb Baker's alleged sexual misconduct, the alleged cover-up and the impact of power dynamics upon staff and congregation from Mike Baker and Eastview's upper-level leadership.

The investigators were also asked to assess Eastview's policies and make recommendations to provide guidance on improvements moving forward.

"While he worked for Eastview, leadership seemed largely unaware that Caleb used his position, role, or influence as a pastor to persuade women to engage in sexual activity. However, the individuals we were able to interview that had had sexual experiences with Caleb shared credibly that he did so," the investigators state.

"[T]hese assessments are based on the information made available through interviews, related credibility assessments, document review, and accompanying evaluation of all such material, and in accordance with the goals articulated at the beginning of this Investigation Report."

Allegations that Mike Baker covered up his son's sexual misconduct erupted in February after Central Christian Church in Arizona announced Caleb Baker's firing after he was caught in an extramarital affair with another church staffer.

Former Eastview Christian Church Senior Pastor Mike Baker. | YouTube/Eastview Christian Church

Eastview Christian Church elders said in an earlier statement that they only became aware of allegations of abuse against Caleb Baker after he left the church in 2016.

It was not until July 2022 that they got a complaint from a former employee alleging an abusive culture in 2016.

When Eastview Christian Church attempted to have Mike Baker questioned as part of an internal investigation, elders alleged that he resigned instead and insisted he was not involved in a cover-up of his son's indiscretions.

"When people say Mike Baker is covering things up, I didn't know. What I do know is that at Christmas time, we resolved — one of the most trusted members of our staff ever — resolved that there's no conclusion here. Can't prove or disprove these allegations and I thought it was done," Mike Baker said about an attempt to investigate initial rumors of the allegations against his son while he was working at Eastview in 2015.

"And then early in January (2016), there was another allegation that came, and I went down immediately to my son, and I said, you need to resign. I can't deal with this anymore. This is breaking my heart, and we just can't let it destroy me," he recalled.

The former megachurch pastor said after he told his son he needed to resign, he had a job offer from Central Christian Church within two or three days "in a crazy turn of events."

Lawyers from Wagenmaker & Oberly said despite his initial refusal to participate in the church's investigation, Mike Baker agreed to be a part of their review. Caleb Baker refused to be a part of the process, but investigators said he did submit a written statement.

In evaluating whether the former senior pastor used his position to protect his son, investigators concluded that "it is more likely than not" that he used his influence to impede the investigation and withheld information from church elders that could have helped them make more informed decisions about Caleb Baker's role at the church.

"It is more likely than not that Mike Baker misused his leadership position and impeded the Church leadership's ability to follow the Church's policies and procedures for addressing various complaints and reports of misconduct that were made between approximately 2013 and 2023, all contrary to Biblical mandates and norms of behavior for leadership as set forth in the Board Policy Manual," investigators note in the report.

"It is more likely than not that former Senior Pastor Mike Baker and Caleb Baker failed to disclose to the staff and elders of Eastview all they knew of Caleb Baker's sexual conduct and the reasons for the termination of his employment," the report adds.

"Additionally, it is more likely than not that Mike Baker and Caleb Baker failed to disclose to Caleb Baker's subsequent employer important information about Caleb Baker's sexual conduct and the reasons for the termination of his employment. Such misconduct was contrary to Biblical standards for leadership as followed by the Church, such as reflected in Philippians 2:3-4, and contrary to the Church's standards for ethical treatment of others and appropriate concern for others, as per Church's Policy Manual."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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