published Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Girl claims she seduced officer


by Monica Mercer

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.

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    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.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Arrested SRO had been advised to work on 'rapport' with students

Article: East Ridge Middle School SRO placed on administrative leave

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seyville said...

If this officer can be tempted by the advances of a mere 16 year old then he's not fit for the profession of police work to begin with. Both as a 38 year old man and a professional he should have realized when the relationship was becoming far too personal and distanced himself. Instead he allowed himself to become even more involved and personal with this 16 year old female. Not only that it seems he may have even committed another illegal act as a "trained professional" when he decided to do a check on the boyfriend of this girl's mother. Isn't that alone against police policy? Although individuals in law enforcement have been known to do this all the time? They're just rarely if ever caught in the act?

As a perfessional and a 38 year old man, even if the 16 year old had stripped butt naked in front of him, he should have been man enough and professional enough to tell her to put her clothes back on. Doctors, psychologists etc., who sex with their patients are held legally accountable, even when the patient is allege to have "seduced" them. Why? Because their expected to be held to a higher standard, just as individuals in LE are. Therefore, I don't buy that the 16 year old seduced this man. That's a lame unexcusable excuse.

April 8, 2010 at 10:06 a.m.
seyville said...

If this officer can be tempted by the advances of a mere 16 year old then he's not fit for the profession of police work to begin with. How easily has he been tempted by other unlawful acts?

Both as a 38 year old man and a professional he should have realized when the relationship was becoming far too personal and distanced himself. Instead he allowed himself to become even more involved and personal with this 16 year old female. Not only that it seems he may have even committed another illegal act as a "trained professional" when he decided to do a check on the boyfriend of this girl's mother. Isn't that alone against police policy? Although individuals in law enforcement have been known to do this all the time? They're just rarely if ever caught in the act?

As a professional and a 38 year old man, even if the 16 year old had stripped butt naked in front of him, he should have been man enough and professional enough to tell her to put her clothes back on. Doctors, psychologists etc., who engage in personal relationships that are sexual in nature with their patients are held legally accountable, even when the patient is allege to have "seduced" them. The same applies to the profession of LE. Why? Because they're expected to be held and must be held to a higher standard of accountability than the average citizen, otherwise why should society need them to uphold laws if they're going to regularly and routinely be allowed to break those laws? Therefore, I don't buy that the 16 year old seduced this man. That's a lame unexcusable excuse.

April 8, 2010 at 10:12 a.m.
Lockandload said...

Aside from the officer's behavior, I think the girl and her little friend should be facing felony conspiracy charges attempting to blackmail him. Just because she's an "innocent" 16 year old (sorry, don't buy the argument; she knew damn well what she was doing) doesn't give her a free pass.

April 8, 2010 at 10:33 a.m.
tnvolfan said...

I think the paper needs to do a better job of presenting the real facts.

1) The alleged victim had been suicidial several times and was the main reason Officer Baker became involved with her in addition to her multitude of other relationship problems involving boys/men, sex, and drugs. Never has Officer Baker admitted to having any inappropriate relationships with the alleged victim.

2) The alleged victim could not give a specific date or even month the "supposed" sexual act took place. Neither the alleged victim the witness could agree on which month the events happened.

3) The 21-year old man, Lee Gianero, who reported the alleged sexual encounters at the police deptarment was a man the alleged victim went to Officer Baker requesting help from due to his sexual interest in her. Lee Gianero has never appeared in court.

Why? What was his interest?
#4) The investigator admitted both parities discussed blackmailing Officer Baker. The detective also mention that Lee Gianero had a criminal record. When confronted by Jerry Summers the investigator responded by saying he didn't take the comments of blackmail or extortion serious. Amazing the paper didn't get this perspective!(go to the CHATTANOOGAN.COM for a more accurate perspective)

My question is why was an investigation not conducted on Giareno? The girl admitted asking Officer Baker for help with him and admitted smoking pot with this guy. Another question? Why would an investigator put a wire on someone with a criminal background to try and set up an Officer who was trying to help a troubled teenager?

Officer Baker has a perfect record. He is a God fearing man, good father, and outstanding police officer. He has served his community for 13 years as well as his country. I completely get that fact that negative media sells papers but this article is ridiculous!!! There are many missed "quotes". For example, the transcript regarding the phone conversation. Officer Baker did NOT say, "did you tell anyone we had sex?". This statement was made by the alleged vicitm who was sitting on the other end of the phone with Lee Gianero (the man she feared). The investigator never mentioned Officer Baker denying these allegations in the transcript when in fact he did deny them twice before ending the conversation.

I hope these comments I have left will open the eyes of the community. The facts are not all out and the media has completely painted an unfair picture of Officer Bakers involvement with this girl. Shame on you Monika Mercer for sloppy-inaccurate reporting. I believe it's the readers right to see both sides of a story and facts as they are presented not to convey them in a way that will influence readers oppions. Where is this mans right to a fair trial? I would ask the community to pray for men/women in uniform and for this family. Pray for TRUTH and JUSTICE because you wont get it from this article or the Chattanooga News Free Press!

April 8, 2010 at 4 p.m.
xyzyra said...

"Can't give a specific date and time of the allege sexual encounters?" Are you serious? Who would be keeping dates and times? Do you mark down each and every time you've had sex? What about the recording where Officer Bakers somewhat admits there was possible inappropiate contact with the girl?

Furthermore, regardless of how or why he started being involved with the girl, when he saw the relationship was becoming too personal he should have been both man enough and the professional cop to severe all contact. As a grown man and a professional he too certainly knew the consequences for maintaining any type of relationship with the girl that could be viewed as something other someone who just wanted to help out a young person.

April 8, 2010 at 8:16 p.m.
tnvolfan said...

No, I don't keep track of the days I have sex but the first time I am with someone I would remember. Especially, if I was persuing this person. I don't think there was a relationship between the two of them. It sounded like the girl wanted a relationship with Officer Baker and she persued him. Maybe when she didn't get what she wanted she decided to blackmail him along with this Lee Gianero.

The News Free Press Times printed a retactiion today because they miss represented Officer Baker in the recorded phone conversation. It was a HUGE mistake by the paper. The "alleged" victim was the one asking the question "did you tell anyone we had sex?".

In Thursday's paper, this was on the front page of the metro section where everyone could read,see, and form an opinion. Today the retaction is on the second page and not nearly as noticeable as the first story. Officer Baker never asked the question... it was the "alleged victim asking the question.

Officer Baker never admitted to having sex in fact he denied these allegations. I just wonder how many people saw this retraction and if it changed their opinion of Officer Baker.

Monika Mercer messed up big time! Any journalist should know to make sure a direct quote is exactly what the person said. Messing up a quote like this in this type of case is HUGE!!!!!! You can't tell me the way she wrote this story did Officer Baker any favors. In fact, it completely miss represented him and left the public thinking he's guilty when in fact he denied these allegeations.

Even more interesting to me regarding this case is why isn't the Sherriff's Department or someone not looking into the relationship with this girl and the 21-year old Lee Gianero? The girl made allegations against him too.

April 10, 2010 at 12:46 a.m.
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