Despite a speech disability brought on by a stroke, an elderly woman had no problem communicating to her family members that she had been raped by a police officer, the relatives testified.
“She was crying and said ‘Rape,’” the woman’s son said from the witness stand Tuesday in the preliminary hearing for Gary Dale Baker, the fired former Sacramento police officer who is accused in the sexual attack.
Prosecutors say Baker, 50, assaulted the woman twice in her south side senior living apartment, once on Nov. 24, 2010, when she was 75, and again on Sept. 20, 2012, when she was 77.
Sacramento police arrested and fired Baker last Dec. 20, three days after he was seen on a hunter’s “game camera” the alleged victim’s son installed over the doorway to her apartment. He put it there, he testified, after she told the family she’d been raped on two separate occasions in her own home.
The woman’s communication problems due to speech aphasia have been a major issue in the case. In July, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan ruled that the alleged victim is incompetent to testify at trial. The ruling came after a hearing in April in which Baker’s defense attorney, Linda Parisi, challenged the woman’s reliability as a witness based on her aphasia, a condition brought on by brain trauma – in this case, her 2009 stroke – that severely affects the ability to speak and write.
Parisi has since sought to bar the use of hearsay testimony at Baker’s preliminary hearing based on the alleged victim’s communications with investigators and family members.
Preliminary hearing Judge Patrick Marlette said from the bench last week that it appeared to him, after looking at videotapes of the woman’s statements to police, that they were consistent enough to make the hearsay testimony allowable for now. Marlette said it will be up to the defense, for the purpose of deciding whether Baker must stand trial, to prove whether the statements are unreliable.
The hearing, over six days, is scheduled to resume Thursday.
Police witnesses in the hearing said they had a difficult time understanding the alleged victim.
Such was not the case with her son and granddaughter, both of whom testified in front of Marlette over the past two days.
The names of the two witnesses are being withheld by The Sacramento Bee because they would help identify the victim of the alleged sexual assault.
Her son said on the stand Tuesday that his mother, in telling family members about the first alleged attack in her apartment, used the word “rape” to describe it. When they asked her who did it, she said “police,” and when they asked her to describe the attacker, she said “black,” her son testified. Baker is African American.
“In my head, I didn’t want to believe it,” the man said. “I couldn’t believe what she was saying to me.”
But his mother kept repeating the words “rape,” “police” and “black,” he testified.
The son said he asked his daughter to talk to her grandmother “and find out what was going on,” the younger woman testified in court on Monday.
“She was distraught,” the granddaughter testified, under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday. “You could tell she was very upset, crying, and she was trying to explain something that happened.”
The granddaughter said that when she asked what happened, the alleged victim said, “R-a-p-e. She was spelling it. I said, ‘Who, who was raped?’ She said ‘Me. I was raped.’ She was pointing at herself.”
Asked who did it, the woman said “police,” the granddaughter testified. The woman then brought out a photograph of one of her sons who is a police officer in his uniform.
“I asked her if he had a uniform, and she said ‘Yes,’ and if the car was a police car, and she said ‘Yes,’” the granddaughter testified.
“She was adamant about saying she was raped,” the granddaughter testified. “She spelled it out and spoke in words about things that happened to her, forcibly.”
The granddaughter testified that she took the woman into a bathroom to examine her body and saw that her breasts and upper chest had been bruised.
The granddaughter said her grandmother gave her a plastic bag with undergarments in it and that she turned the items over to police for DNA tests. Police and prosecutors say the tests matched Baker’s genetic profile.
A forensic examination of the alleged victim also turned up substantial evidence that a sexual assault had taken place, according to police testimony during the preliminary hearing and in court documents filed in the case.
Following the second alleged sexual assault last year, the woman’s son said she told him in her impaired speech pattern, “The same, the same, the same black police,” again in conjunction with the word “rape.”
Authorities conducted another sexual assault exam and found evidence “consistent with penetrating genital trauma,” according to court documents.
The son testified under questioning from Parisi that one of the medical practitioners “mentioned something” about the possibility that the injury might have been self-inflicted. He also said concerns had been expressed by other family members, although “not by me,” that maybe his mother was experiencing a flashback from the 2010 incident or that she was making it up.