SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The ex-husband of the woman raising recent allegations against Smith County Judge Joel Baker asked publicly on Tuesday for the judge to "do the right thing."
Judge Baker has been under scrutiny after a KLTV investigation exposed claims that he sent over one thousand sexually-explicit messages to a woman through social media, often while working for the county and a state commission.
James Hardman, the ex-husband of a woman who asked not to be identified, said during the Smith County Commissioners Court public comment session that he could confirm that Baker randomly found his ex-wife on Facebook, sent her a request, and began to send her messages.
"My goal for going into that courtroom was to shock him enough to know that the truth is out there and that people do know what really happened," Hardman said.
According to the woman and the private investigator she hired, Tim McLemee, the two began accelerating the online relationship with the judge to see how far he would go.
"When I found out about it, I didn't want any part of it," said Hardman. "I don't agree with the things that she's done, with the messaging back and forth with him."
But Hardman said the response letter sent by Baker on March 14 prompted him to go public.
Baker identifies his accuser in the letter, and claims that the woman found him on social media, initiated contact, and asked for help with getting a government job. Baker goes on to say the woman began sending him explicit messages, and that he continued the conversations because he believed that she was working with people who were trying to set him up and destroy his family. Baker said he hoped the communication would lead to identifying who was behind the set-up.
Hardman calls Baker's claims false. He said his ex was living with him temporarily when the friend request came from Baker
"I was there from the very start, I saw the very first friend request. I saw the very first message," Hardman said. "He doesn't really need to admit it out publicly, but his actions have shown that he is ignoring it and he is pointing the finger that it was someone else, that is was people trying to set him up."
Though Hardman maintains that his ex-wife did not know Baker personally, he said he had past dealings with Baker.
"Actually, I hired him [as an attorney] to represent me, this was about 13 years ago; he did a good job for me," Hardman said. ""[But] saying that he was set up and he was approached. I just could not let him sit there and tell that big lie on my ex, I just couldn't do it."
Baker did not respond to requests for a comment on Tuesday.
Hardman said he is not looking for the judge to resign, but to tell the truth.
"I know by listening to him that he believes in God and he goes to church and the things I've learned from going to church is you admit when you are wrong, and you ask for forgiveness," Hardman said. "If you do that, you can be forgiven, but if you try to sweep it under the rug, it just makes it worse."