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Man accused of sexual assault at St. Paul’s School seeks to restrict evidence

  • Baker

  • Former St. Paul’™s student Ben Baker confers with his lawyer after his arraignment and bail hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on April 5. Baker is accused of sexually assaulting a boy at the school decades ago. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 12/12/2019 3:43:24 PM
Modified: 12/12/2019 3:43:14 PM

A Virginia man accused of sexually assaulting a boy at St. Paul’s School decades ago is arguing that county prosecutors should be prohibited from introducing certain evidence to jurors at his January trial.

That evidence includes allegations of sexual abuse by Benjamin Baker against a second victim, as well as any testimony concerning an apology Baker made to that child. Defense attorneys are also asking a judge to exclude all evidence of sexual misconduct by Baker that did not result in criminal charges or resulted in charges that have since been dismissed.

Baker, 64, of Falls Church, Va., is scheduled to stand trial next month on four counts of felonious sexual assault for abuse dating back to the 1970s at the Concord prep school. He also faces an additional count of felonious sexual assault and one count of aggravated felonious sexual assault for alleged conduct involving a second victim. However, evidence to support the latter two charges will be heard by a separate jury at a later date.

The Concord Police Department began its investigation of Baker in June 2017 when St. Paul’s administrators first learned of the abuse allegations and reported them.

Baker, a star wrestler during his time at St. Paul’s in the 1970s, is accused of sexually assaulting two brothers, both of whom were entrusted in Baker’s care for years and lived on campus with family. Police allege the abuse occurred when Baker was a student and after he graduated in 1974.

The victim whose central to the charges scheduled for trial in January told police he was sexually assaulted by Baker between 1970 and 1977. During investigative interviews, he recalled two specific assaults, one in his dorm room and another at his family’s home, which led authorities to file charges.

However, the victim also reported several other incidents of inappropriate touching and abuse by Baker, which defense attorneys say must be excluded from trial because it’s “uncharged conduct.” They argue these allegations would lead jurors to make unfair inferences about Baker and distract them from the charges at hand.

Additionally, defense attorneys maintain that an apology from Baker to a second victim should not be admissible at the January trial. That boy reported a single incident of alleged abuse to his parents in the 1970s, and Baker ultimately apologized after being confronted by the boy’s father, according to court documents. Attorneys argue that Baker’s motivation for apologizing is not clear and that the apology to one child does not equate an admission of guilt to allegations involving the child’s brother.

The parents never made a formal report to law enforcement or the school at the time.

Prosecutors say the victims, now in their 50s, did not disclose the abuse to authorities for decades because they feared social shame and humiliation, as well as not being believed and retribution by Baker.

Baker, who was incarcerated following his late-February arrest, posted bail in April. He remains out of jail on bail conditions.

A hearing on the defense’s pending motions is scheduled for Dec. 19 in Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord.

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319 or at adandrea@cmonitor.com.)



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