Judge responds to sexting allegations - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Judge responds to sexting allegations

Smith County Judge Joel Baker. (Source: KLTV staff) Smith County Judge Joel Baker. (Source: KLTV staff)
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

An East Texas judge facing allegations of sexual behavior online released a response Monday evening.

Smith County Judge Joel Baker was accused of sending over a thousand explicit social media messages to a local woman he never met, often during county and state business times. Tim McLemee, private investigator and digital evidence expert, was hired by the woman to validate who was sending the messages.

See FULL Investigative Report: Judge accused of sexting while sitting on judicial conduct board

KLTV began contacting Judge Baker for a response on March 9 via email, telephone, and through his assistants. Six days later, shortly before the 6 p.m. newscast on Monday, March 14, Baker sent the following response:

It is my understanding that you have received information from a woman and a private investigator, alleging that I initiated contact with her via social media of a sexual nature.

Since my re-election campaign in 2014 I have been the target of ridiculous allegations via anonymous blogs.  The media is well aware of these blogs because they seem to use the blogs as their source for news stories.  However, the media has never attempted to discover who it is that hides behind the screen to make my life miserable.

It has been a very difficult time and has caused a tremendous amount of stress for me and for my family, and we desperately wanted to find out who it was who held so much hate that they were determined to destroy our family.

I was contacted in early January by an anonymous caller telling me there were people out to get me who had hired a private investigator to “dig up dirt” on me, and they were planning to use a female to catch me in a compromising “rendezvous” situation.  This new revelation took the situation to the next level and caused me great concern for the safety of my family.

Baker says after that anonymous call, he received a social media message from a woman asking about how to apply for a government job and he responded. After that, Baker claims the woman contacted him with suggestive emails.

The woman, who asked not to be identified, told KLTV that Baker sent her a friend request several months ago and initiated the conversations with her.  McLemee denies that any messages were sent by his client to Baker asking about a government job.  McLemee, the woman and Baker in his letter all agree that she never met Baker face to face. 

In his March 14 letter, Baker also says: Thinking she might be the person that the anonymous caller referred to, my wife and I agreed that I would continue the conversation with (identity withheld) to find out who was behind this mess.  [She] sent two sexually explicit videos of herself.  She asked to meet me and I agreed to meet in an attempt to determine who she was working with and/or to confront these people.

On Facebook, the woman uses her legal name, the same name Baker refers to in his response letter to KLTV.  Despite Baker’s position as county judge, with access to law enforcement officials and investigators, Baker does not allege an official investigation or officer involvement was solicited in this situation. 

In KLTV’s review of over one thousand messages sent by Judge Baker from February 10 through February 21, Baker does not inquire about the woman’s associates, where she lives, or any other identifying information.  Baker says in one message on February 16 “I’ve run a complete background check on you” and then follows it “jk” or “just kidding.”

More probing questions come from the woman, who on February 16, asks Baker to explain the education conference that he is attending, and to talk more about being a county official.

Facebook messages from February 16 from approximately 11:30am - 12:30pm :

Joel Baker:   

I just mean that I try to keep my feelings to myself these days because people constantly try to screw me over. Before I took this job I had a lot of friends that I thought I could count on. Now I have a lot of fake friends. A whole bunch of fake friends.

Woman:   

 you still have alot of people that respect you and like you I respect and like you
not that my oponion really matters at this point

Joel Baker:

It does and I appreciate it. There's just so much s**t I could tell you. Politics is a dirty business.

Woman:

your the one who chose to be a politic...

Joel Baker:

Thanks for that. That's the same bulls**t I hear from aholes all the time.  I didnt run for office to be a politician. I ran for office because I thought I could do better than my predecessor and I have.

Baker's response letter continues:

This occurred over several different occasions over the course of several weeks. I responded to her in the same manner she wrote to me. I never initiated the contact.  I only replied to her.  I attempted to set up the meetings that she requested, but she always made excuses. I never sent any explicit videos or photos of myself to [identity withheld] as has been alleged.

I never initiated the contact with [identity withheld] as has been alleged.  I have never met [her], nor did I ever desire to have any relationship of any kind with [her].

McLemee and the woman say Baker sent three photos of his genitals and one video. The woman also sent explicit photos of herself to Baker. McLemee said that after his involvement in her case on February 11, he instructed her to send "control photos" that were found of other people on pornographic websites.  

KLTV’s examination of the explicit photos sent by Baker found that the background of the snapshots matched Baker’s hotel room and his vehicle.

Baker's letter says he discontinued any communication with her in mid-February. 

In the latter part of February, I was contacted again by an anonymous caller saying that “they” had enticed [her] by threatening to have her arrested on an outstanding traffic warrant and by offering her a substantial sum of money to assist them in their efforts to discredit me.

It has been suggested that my recent resignation from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is related to this matter, but my resignation is simply a result of the overwhelming level of stress I’ve been under.  I discussed my resigning from the commission with the Executive Director and some of my fellow commissioners during our last meeting.

Read: Smith County judge resigns from state commission

Read: State Commission on Judicial Conduct investigating judge following sexting allegations

Baker ends his response letter by addressing those he has referred to on several occasions as "political enemies."

To the person who apparently harbors such hatred towards me, I would simply say you have won. You are succeeding in destroying my life and my family. In an attempt to protect my family, to the extent we can, we will have no additional comments regarding this matter. We ask that you respect our privacy.

KLTV has given Baker the opportunity to examine the information and evidence provided by McLemee, but Baker has not responded to that offer.

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