The pastor of a Columbia church and a chaplain for local police has been charged with criminal domestic violence.
Michael Henry Baker, 55, was booked at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on Wednesday and charged with third-degree criminal domestic violence.
Baker is the pastor of Greater St. Luke Baptist Church on Farrow Road. He served as a chaplain for both the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the Columbia Police Department but, since his charge, has been relieved of his duties by both agencies, spokespeople said.
Baker’s charge comes after an officer responded to two incidents within the past week between Baker and his wife, according to incident reports provided by the sheriff’s department.
On March 16, a deputy responded to the couple’s home on Hunt Club Road just before 10 p.m. According to the report, Baker’s wife said he was keeping her phone from her. When his wife repeatedly asked him to give it to her, he pushed her to the floor twice, causing her to hit her head and injure her hand, she told the officer.
His wife went to a neighbor’s house to call 911 and later filled out a criminal domestic violence statement but “didn’t want Mr. Baker to go to jail,” the report said.
And on March 20, a deputy again arrived at the home, where Baker was sitting in his wife’s car preventing her from leaving, according to the incident report. His wife said she had come to pick up some of her belongings and leave but Baker wouldn’t let her. She also said that Baker had changed the locks on the doors and hadn’t given her a new key to the house, the report said.
At that time, the report said, Baker said “he wanted a report showing that (his wife) was leaving the residence and that he didn’t force her to leave.”
The sheriff’s department website describes Baker as a “nationally known evangelist” and a “visionary leader” whose community involvement spans from the NAACP to youth programs.