A 16-year-old girl has testified she seduced a Hamilton County school resource officer, telling a judge she became "suicidal" when authorities found out about their sexual relationship.
"I (was) flirty with him. He never forced himself on me," the girl insisted of her friendship with officer Jeff Baker, who worked at East Ridge Middle School. He now is on unpaid administrative leave.
Staff photo by John Rawlston/Chattanooga Times Free Press Former Hamilton County School Resource Officer Jeff Baker appears at the Hamilton County Chattanooga Courts Building on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on charges of aggravated statutory rape with a female student who was 15 years old at the time of the alleged incident.
The girl testified Wednesday at a preliminary hearing for Mr. Baker in Hamilton County General Sessions Court. He is charged with two counts of aggravated statutory rape.
The friendship began when the girl was 13 and still a student at the middle school, she said in testimony before Judge David Bales. She asked Mr. Baker at the time to help her with troubles she was having with another girl. She also asked him to help her dig up dirt on her mother's boyfriend, who she didn't like, she said.
"He was just really helpful," she said, describing how Mr. Baker pulled the criminal history of the boyfriend for her and occasionally would send her text messages to make sure she came to school.
The girl later told the judge that Mr. Baker's legal troubles are "all my fault." She said their two sexual encounters at the end of last summer were awkward and that she could tell he was reluctant.
"He kept saying he was really nervous," the girl said as she described their second and last sexual encounter last August in a bathroom next to the pool of an apartment complex on Shallowford Road.
The girl's testimony never wavered, and defense attorney Jerry Summers said the revelations prove how "little cooperation" she is giving to the prosecution.
Mr. Baker's wife watched the entire hour-long court proceeding, and after the hearing Judge Bales sent the two charges to the Hamilton County Grand Jury for further examination. The grand jury could hand down felony indictments.
Mr. Baker, 38, remains on unpaid administrative leave and has denied ever having a sexual encounter with the girl. A recorded conversation between him and the girl, however, indicates that he asked her, "have you told anyone about us having sex," documents indicate.
Mr. Summers pointed out that the girl, along with another boy, had tossed around the idea of blackmailing Mr. Baker.
An investigator from the sheriff's office confirmed the claim, stating the boy admitted to wanting to blackmail Mr. Baker before deciding to go straight to the police.
Mr. Summers said that fact made him wonder if the sheriff's office did its due diligence in investigating whether the case was legitimate.
"Conspiracy law says you can be guilty of blackmail just by talking about it," he reminded the court.
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