Former Sacramento police officer Gary Dale Baker told investigators he had sex with the elderly, stroke-impaired woman he is accused of raping, but insisted it was consensual, a detective testified Wednesday.
Baker admitted to the contact a day after he denied having sex with her at all, Detective Eugene Shim said at the former officer’s preliminary hearing in Sacramento Superior Court. Shim said Baker initially denied having sex with the woman when Sacramento police first informed him he was the target of a sexual-assault investigation last December.
Shim testified that Baker, now 50, said he unsuccessfully attempted to have sexual intercourse with the woman, now 78, about two months before police confronted him.
Baker also told detectives he later performed oral sex on the woman in the bedroom of her south area senior-living apartment complex, Shim testified under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Amy Holliday.
On cross-examination, Shim told defense attorney Linda Parisi that Baker thought the alleged victim – who is identified in the case only as “Jane Doe” – was 60 to 65 years old. According to Shim, Baker thought she had an accent and that she stuttered. Under further questioning from Parisi, the detective said Baker thought the woman had “something else” wrong with her speech that made it “a little different.”
The woman suffered a stroke in 2009 that left her with a lingering condition called speech aphasia, which severely inhibits her ability to communicate through written or spoken words. She has been declared incompetent to testify, a potentially major hurdle for the prosecution if the case goes to trial.
Police and prosecutors have charged that Baker raped the woman twice, both times inside her apartment, on Nov. 24, 2010, and again on Sept. 20, 2012. Authorities said Baker was questioned, arrested and fired last December after the woman’s son mounted a game-hunting camera over her apartment door and turned over to police a video purportedly showing an assailant entering her apartment to attack her.
Asked if Baker told detectives he never forced the woman to do anything, Shim answered, “Yes.” Baker also told them he had a conversation with the woman about her family, that she showed him pictures of them and that she even gave him her phone number, Shim testified.
“He said that every interaction he had with Ms. Doe was in fact consensual?” Parisi asked.
“Yes,” Shim replied.
Baker’s admission that he had sex with the woman took place a day after detectives first told him they were looking into allegations of a sexual assault and that he matched the description of the suspect. The initial confrontation came at 5:20 a.m. Dec. 19, some 40 minutes before Baker was scheduled to begin his patrol shift in the neighborhood where the elderly woman lived.
The officer said last December he met the woman “months ago” while he was off duty, Shim said. “He stated they had met and talked for a little while and at some point they went over to her residence,” the detective testified. Baker spontaneously at first said, “I never had any sexual relations with her at all,” according to Shim’s account of their interview.
“Zero, no contact,” Baker said in the interview, Shim testified. “Haven’t held her hand. Haven’t done anything with her.”
During the preliminary hearing, the prosecution has presented testimony from police and family members who said it was clear to them the elderly woman claimed to have been raped. The defense has challenged the admissibility of the police and family testimony on hearsay grounds. Judge Patrick Marlette has not ruled on how much of it will be considered in the preliminary hearing, which has now taken seven days and is scheduled to resume Monday.
Besides the testimony, Holliday has presented medical evidence that the woman suffered physical trauma consistent with a sexual attack. Authorities also say they have DNA evidence, which it appears the defense will attempt to explain by Baker’s contention that the sex was consensual.
“Certainly that’s a big part of it, as well as other challenges to what has occurred,” Parisi said in an interview outside the courtroom.
One of those challenges was an effort by Parisi on Thursday to have Baker’s statements to the detectives ruled inadmissible. She argued the detectives did not properly inform Baker of his rights, saying only that whatever he said to them “may” be used against him in court, not “can and will.” Parisi also said Baker never formally waived his right to not answer questions, and that the detectives never clearly communicated to him that they were conducting a criminal rather than administrative investigation.
Marlette, who has had several contentious exchanges with Parisi, ruled against her on all counts. Throughout the hearing, Parisi has riled the judge by continuing to argue on objections after he has ruled on them.