A 20-year-old man was sentenced Friday to five years supervised probation and time served for inappropriate contact with a four-year-old girl in August of 2011.
Corey Baker, who was 18 at the time of the incident, entered a guilty “Alford” plea to reduced charges, acknowledging the evidence against him without admitting guilt, Judge Joshua B. Rustad explained. Baker has served 174 days and was set to be released Friday. He will be required to register as a sex offender.
The incident occurred while Baker was at a social gathering at a residence where he consumed alcohol before entering the bedroom of the girl and touching her private areas with various parts of his body, according to a statement of facts read by state attorney Marlyce Wilder.
Baker sat quietly at the Williams County Courthouse Friday and declined to make a statement about the crime after his plea was entered, while Wilder read two statements from the four-year-old’s mother and grandmother.
“We trusted him and treated him as a family member,” Wilder read from the mother’s statement as a woman who identified herself as the child’s parent cried while seated beside other members of the family who watched the proceedings.
The exact nature of Baker’s relationship with the family was unclear, but the four-year-old saw him as an “uncle,” according to the mother’s statement.
“It is heartbreaking to know she was robbed of her innocence,” the statement continued.
Wilder read from the statement that the mother also had initially hoped there had been a misunderstanding, but she now does not feel safe.
“My family is not the reason he is here today,” Wilder read. “He is not the victim.”
Rustad agreed to accept the plea agreement, but said even though they are common in many cases, this was one of his most difficult in two years on the bench.
“The nature of the allegations are obviously serious,” he said.
Rustad said in reducing the charges from gross sexual imposition and attempted gross sexual imposition, Class A and B felonies, to corruption or solicitation a minor and criminal attempt, corruption or solicitation of a minor, he was looking in part to avoid re-victimizing the girl in the process of a trial.
“I don’t want to put her through that again,” he said.
Rustad listed the actions not allowed under Baker’s probation, including using the internet and consuming alcohol, and said Baker must register his location with the police for the sex offender list and have no contact with the victim’s family.