SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An ethical investigation into a Smith County judge has resurrected questions about a five-year-old criminal complaint.
Judge Joel Baker is being investigated by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct for allegations made that Baker sent over a thousand sexually explicit messages and nude photos via social media to a woman he never met. Hundreds of those messages were sent while Baker was handling state and county business..
At Smith Commissioners Court on Tuesday during public comment, residents called for Judge Baker's resignation. Two of the commenting residents cited a "previous incident" that occurred in 2011 as an added reason why Baker should resign.
Smith County resident Rosalie Howerton told the court that she became aware of the incident before Baker was elected to his current term.
"There wasn't anything that could be done about it at that time," Howerton said. "Someone sent me a police report on his peeping tom over on Bois d' Arc Street and so when this came up, I went, 'he needs to resign.'"
On August 15, 2011, a 23-year-old female victim reported an act of improper photography and harassment to Tyler Police.
According to the police report, around 12:40 a.m., the victim told officers she became very scared when she noticed a man standing in a bedroom window facing hers...holding a computer with a message that read 'come on over.'" The victim reported she was topless at the time.
After running to tell her mother and sister, the victim told police she returned to her room to find another message in her neighbor's window that said "call or text me" and "stop hiding behind the curtain."
Property records and the police report confirm the neighbor's house belonged to Baker. Photos taken by police that night show the windows of the two houses are only a few feet apart.
According to the report, the responding officer "knocked on the front door [of Baker's house]...but no one answered the knock. "Several attempts were made to contact [Baker], but he would not come to the door," the report says.
Police continued with a search around Baker's house and found a camera, taped to the outside of the window of Baker's house, facing the victim's house.
An officer noted seeing that the camera "had a cord running from it to a black Toshiba laptop computer."
According to the police narratives, at least 1 hour and 20 minutes pass before a detective arrives on the scene who is able to make contact with Baker inside.
The detective wrote in her report that Baker explained the camera was for security and he was "attempting to catch who was stealing his electricity."
Baker further explained that the messages typed on his I-pad that said "stop hiding" and "call or text me" were part of a tense feud he was having with the victim's family. The report details arguments the two sides were having over parking space. The victim and her family agreed that there had been problems between the property owners.
Also in the police report, Baker told the detective he didn't come to the door initially because he was asleep, and had a "noise machine" that blocked him from hearing outside noise.
The detective asked Baker to make another video using the camera so she could see the angle of the camera. She found that the camera faced down to the neighbor's kitchen, not the upstairs bedroom, according to the police report.
The detective says in her report that she reviewed the only other video on the laptop, and it showed only a "black background" that did not show anything. The detective notes that the video "did not have a time or date stamp on it."
Police asked Baker to turn over his laptop that connected to the camera, but he refused citing "sensitive material" on it that "may relate to Smith County official business."
The detective noted that she met with Baker again on August 16, 2011, and looked at the properties of the video. On this day, the detective notes a timestamp of August 14, 2011 at 10:49 a.m. and concluding on August 15, 2011 at 1:55 a.m.
The police report concludes with the following statement by the detective:
"Based on the information that has been obtained by [the victim] and Baker, there is no criminal offense occurring from this incident. This case is closed."
Requests for a comment from Baker on this incident went unanswered on Thursday.