State College man accused of child rape appears in court
A man who says he saw 51-year-old Jackson C. Baker sexually assaulting a child in January testified at Baker’s preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
Baker, of State College, appeared before Magisterial District Judge Carmine Prestisa. He was arrested last week and faces 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.
Brandon Magusiak testified that he saw Baker sexually assaulting a child in the basement of the family’s home on Jan. 19.
At the time of the alleged assault, Magusiak was living with the Baker family. On the night in question, Magusiak said he came home from work around 6 p.m., entering through the basement door. Magusiak said he saw Baker in the basement with the child; however, he walked past them, did not say anything and went upstairs to his room.
After spending “a few hours” in his second-floor bedroom, Magusiak said he went to the basement to smoke a cigarette. When he reached the bottom of the steps, Magusiak testified that he saw Baker sexually assaulting the child. Magusiak said he ran over to Baker and yelled at him, prompting Baker to stop.
Magusiak said Baker “completely froze.” Leaving Baker and the witness in the basement, Magusiak said he went back upstairs to his room. The rest of the house, to Magusiak’s knowledge, was empty.
Later in the evening, Magusiak said he went into Baker’s room to confront him, telling Baker, “what happens in the dark will come to the light.” Magusiak said Baker’s wife was also present during the confrontation.
Magusiak said he did not report the incident because he was afraid his story would not be believed.
Baker was represented by court-appointed attorney Karen Gwyn Muir. Muir asked Magusiak why he went to the basement without wearing shoes, reading his original statement to police that said he “walked slowly” downstairs to see if Baker was still with the child.
Magusiak was unsure why he phrased his statement that way but said the basement was the only part of the house where smoking was permitted. He added that Baker was “always in the basement.”
Magusiak said he did not think anyone would believe his story because “anytime the cops come” Jackson “lies to the police” and tells officers a different story.
Muir asked Magusiak if he was ever present for these alleged interactions; however, he was not. Before the assault, Magusiak said he heard stories from family members about Baker lying to the police and being believed by law enforcement. These stories, Magusiak said, were why he thought his report would not be believed.
During the investigation, police discovered a string of complaints against him: a complaint from a mother who said Baker had taken her child off the bus without permission, a report saying Baker took pictures of young boys and allegations of physical abuse, reports of neglect of his children and allegations from church members who said Baker stole money and set up unauthorized fundraisers.
Baker did not testify during the hearing.
After his arraignment last week, Baker declared his innocence.
“I just hope they’re able to pull the truth ... otherwise an innocent man is going to jail,” he told reporters.
Baker was bound over on all charges and is being held at the Centre County jail. Monetary bail is still set at $200,000.
A formal arraignment is scheduled for July 17.