Crime

State College man, who reportedly worked as a pastor and arborist, facing child rape charges

State College man faces sexual assault of a child charges

Jackson Baker of State College faces felony charges of rape of a child, involuntary sexual intercourse with a child, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors. This video was provided by WTAJ, through a partnership with the CDT.
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Jackson Baker of State College faces felony charges of rape of a child, involuntary sexual intercourse with a child, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors. This video was provided by WTAJ, through a partnership with the CDT.

A State College man has been arrested and charged with sexually assaulting a child.

Jackson C. Baker, 51, was arraigned at noon Friday before District Judge Thomas Jordan, and is facing felony charges of rape of a child, involuntary sexual intercourse with a child, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors — defendant age 18 or above, and misdemeanor indecent exposure.

He’s being held at the Centre County jail in lieu of $200,000 monetary bail.

Baker is reported to have had a string of contacts with police and Child Youth Services throughout his life in multiple states, including incidents in Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Baker has moved around to nine different states in the past 10 years, and has failed to appear for court hearings, Assistant District Attorney Megan McGoron said at the arraignment.

McGoron also said that Baker was the child’s primary supervisor, and watched her while her mother was at work.

State College police were first notified in February about a female witness who had suspected Baker of being a pedophile, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

She recounted her experiences with Baker, relating a story about Baker being accused of comparing juvenile female breasts and having Child and Youth Services investigating him in Florida.

The woman said a male witness saw Baker sexually assaulting a child in the basement of Baker’s home on Jan. 19, the affidavit reads. The witness reportedly slapped Baker’s arms, and Baker quickly put his penis back in his pants. He later confronted Baker, saying “what happens in the dark will come to light.”

The female witness also alleges she saw Baker bathe naked with the child twice — in August and December 2018.

On March 14, police met with Baker and his attorney Ron McGlaughlin. Baker told police about his personal history, which includes working as a youth pastor and arborist. The affidavit says Baker used his work to explain why he has moved many times over the past two decades. Baker denied any involvement with CYS prior to moving to State College and stated he was arrested in the past “mostly in his younger years” for theft, disorderly conduct and driving without a license.

Baker denied any encounter or argument with the male witness while in the basement the night the alleged sexual assault occurred. The affidavit reports that Baker denied any assault and claimed he was not in the basement during the night in question.

On March 21, Baker was interviewed a second time by police. Baker signed a Miranda Rights waiver form and agreed to the interview. Baker described additional incidents where he was arrested as an adult for assault, assault with a deadly weapon, arson, theft and grand theft auto. The affidavit also reports that Baker admitted to having contact with CYS about 13 times in one year while he was in Maryland. He cited another interaction with CYS in Ohio when he caught a pastor embezzling money from a church and one final contact with CYS in Pennsylvania.

Counted among the several CYS and police reports from Claremont, Ohio, police uncovered during the investigation into Baker’s past were a complaint from a mother who claimed Baker had taken her child off the bus without permission, a report he took pictures of young boys at a Royal Rangers campout and allegations of physical abuse, reports of neglect of his own children, and allegations from church members he stole money and set up fundraisers without them knowing.

The second time Baker was questioned, he changed his story and admitted to bathing nude with the witness as recent as December 2018, as well as being in the basement with the child the night of the alleged assault. However, he continued to deny any sexual contact with the child, or confrontation with the male witness.

“I just hope they’re able to pull the truth ... otherwise an innocent man is going to jail,” Baker told reporters after his arraignment.

His preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday.

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