ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — A former Boy Scout leader pleaded guilty Monday to multiple counts of child molestation and trying to have some of his victims killed to silence them.
Matthew Baker, 51, pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of statutory sodomy. He could have been sentenced to 10 years on each charge, meaning he would not be eligible to leave prison until he was in his 90s.
Because of sentencing rules on his charges, a life sentence means he will be eligible for parole when he turns 70, or after he has served 40% of his sentence, according to Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar.
Although Baker is eligible for parole, he may never be released because he will be considered a sexually dangerous predator, Lohmar said. The designation means the government has deemed him too dangerous to be set free even though he served his sentence.
"This monster doesn't deserve to breathe another breath outside of a prison cell," Lohmar said after the sentencing.
But the life sentence did not sit well with several victims' members family members, who attended the hearing online. 5 On Your Side is not identifying them by name to protect the identities of the victims.
"Today doesn't feel like a win in our book," said one woman, whose 8-year-old son was molested by Baker in 2018.
The woman said Baker took advantage of her family because he lived next door to her grandfather, and watched her son while she was tending to her father in hospice care.
"You took advantage of our vulnerable situation," she said. "You violated my son while I was right next door."
Her son reported the molestation to his parents the day it happened, so investigators were able to get DNA off of his body.
The woman assured Baker during Monday's hearing that she will forever be a "thorn in his side," and pledged to be there for every parole hearing he ever has to ensure he never gets out of prison.
"You hurt the wrong family," she said. "We will do everything we can to keep you in prison."
Charges against Baker in her son's case led other victims to come forward.
Four of the victims were molested inside Baker’s O’Fallon, Missouri home in 2018, according to court documents. Another victim alleges the abuse took place at the Beaumont Scout Reservation in south St. Louis County.
At the time of the alleged abuse, Baker was volunteering as a Cub Scout den leader for Cub Scout Pack 986 in O'Fallon, Missouri. More specifically, he was a "wolf leader," which means he oversaw children who are either 8 years old or in the second grade. Cub Scout Pack 986 is affiliated with Twin Chimneys Elementary School in the Fort Zumwalt School District.
Boy Scouts of America issued a statement at the time, saying Baker had been stripped of any of his involvement with the organization and urged parents who believe their children might have been victimized to call police.
The charge involving the victim he is accused of molesting in St. Louis County during the Boy Scout event is still pending.
That child's parents also read victim impact statements during Monday's hearing, noting Monday also was the deadline for victims of child molesters who used their positions with the Boy Scouts to prey on their victims to join a class action lawsuit. The victim's father said it is difficult to hear constant advertisements for attorneys soliciting clients for the lawsuit.
"We cannot watch TV or listen to the radio without being reminded of what you did to my son," the man said.
Two of Baker's victims are his relatives.
Baker attended the hearing online as well, appearing on a screen to the right of Judge Ted House, who was in the courtroom. Baker was wearing an orange jumpsuit and held a phone to his ear to hear the proceeding.
As part of the hearing, House asked Baker if he committed the sex offenses for his own sexual gratification. Baker told the court, 'It was more for theirs."
House blasted Baker for his comments.
"Your conduct is disgusting," he said. "These are children who are not capable of consent.
"They are innocent victims and for you to assert that it's important for me to understand that you did this not just for your arousal really does outline the disparity of your mind and conduct. You deserve every day of your incarceration."
Earlier this year, a cellmate told police Baker tried to hire someone to kill two of his victims, ages 9 and 10, to keep them quiet.
Police believe Baker would lure children, often friends of his own children, inside his home by spilling drinks on their pants and telling them to come inside so he could get them dry clothes.
One of the victims reported the abuse to a relative, which led to charges.
Once those charges went public, other victims started coming forward, Lohmar said.
Lohmar said he believes there could be other victims out there.
“Somebody doesn’t start molesting children when they’re 50 years old,” he said. “If there are other victims out there, I hope they have the satisfaction of knowing this guy is going to be locked up for the rest of his life.”