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TV6 INVESTIGATES: Former Clinton paraeducator facing sex abuse, exploitation charges

Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 8:27 PM CDT
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CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) - A months-long investigation that began when a parent approached a school resource officer in March has led to the arrest of a former Clinton High School paraeducator who police say sexually abused a 14-year-old and had inappropriate communication with a 17-year-old.

David Chad Baker, 44, was booked into the Clinton County Jail Friday on six counts of third-degree sexual abuse, a Class C felony, and two counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee, a Class D felony, online jail records show.

He remained in jail Tuesday night on a $50,000 cash-only bond. 

Clinton police said in arrest affidavits that a records search showed Baker was hired as a long-term paraeducator with the Clinton Community School District on Nov. 12.

His final day with the district was reportedly in mid-April, according to the affidavits.

On March 12, a school resource officer at the high school had contact with the parent of the 17-year-old.

The parent told the resource officer the teen told her Baker sent him inappropriate pictures several months earlier, according to the affidavits.

“That investigation led to the first count of sexual exploitation of a minor by a school employee that Baker was charged with,” Clinton Police Capt. Joe Raaymakers said Tuesday in an interview with TV6.

“That investigation was continued by that same school resource officer, which revealed a second potential victim that was not ready to speak to the school resource officer at that time.”

He continued, “The first count of sexual exploitation was simply no physical contact between suspect and victim. That case had to be thoroughly investigated because it was just through the internet. That case has to be reviewed, corroborated, and sent to the county attorney’s office for their review to make sure all the facts are in place before an arrest is made.”

The resource officer talked to Baker, who said he had contact with the teen on the website, Grindr, in December. He also said he stopped contact with the teen when he discovered he was younger than 18, according to the affidavits.

He denied having physical contact with the teen. 

The teen told the resource officer he provided a false age to get onto Grindr, which requires participants to be at least 18, according to the affidavits.

He said Baker approached him on Grindr and sent nude photos to the website that the teen viewed. The teen told the resource officer that the two sent nude photos through the website, according to the affidavit.

In a statement sent to TV6 Tuesday, a Grindr spokesperson said, “We are saddened to learn of these reports.”

Grindr is committed to creating a safe and secure environment to help our community connect and thrive, and any account of sexual abuse or other illegal behavior is deeply troubling to us as well as a clear violation of our terms of service. We encourage users to report improper or illegal behavior either within the app or directly via email to help@grindr.com. In addition, our team is constantly working to improve our digital and human screening tools to prevent and remove improper underage and other illicit use of our app.”

Contact stopped when Baker found out he was younger than 18 until Baker made online contact again in January, the teen told the resource officer.

The teen said he declined to meet Baker, according to the affidavits.

In a follow-up interview several days later, Baker repeatedly said the two never met in-person.

He said there was a time in January when he made contact with the teen on Snapchat and asked to meet up. Baker said his intentions were to have sex with the teen, according to the affidavits.

“The school resource officer and his contact with the district worked as designed,” Raaymakers said. “He informed the school of the allegation and the school district responded immediately and terminated that employee.”

Clinton Community School District Superintendent Gary DeLacy declined to comment on Baker specifically, but he told TV6 that all employees, volunteers, and coaches go through an extensive background check.

“For the Clinton School District, the vetting process extends from employees, coaches, volunteers,” he said. “We define volunteers that have systematic access to kids and then even substitutes, substitute teachers, substitute paras. Anyone that is going to have access to students is going through a vetting process. We use a company called One Source. It basically uses a number of registries. It uses some federal registries, some state registries, some dealing with criminal, some with abuse, some with criminal abuse, sexual abuse, all of those levels.”

He said any red flags on a background check eliminate a potential candidate from the process.

"In fact, you can't even get in our buildings without scanning and being checked against a child abuse or sex abuse registry or you can't even get into our building," he said.

Raaymakers said the investigation into allegations involving Baker and an additional student continued after he was fired.

According to the affidavits, the resource officer on Aug. 14 had contact with a 14-year-old student who said he had inappropriate contact while Baker was an employee of the school.

“The SRO met with the second victim who was then ready to speak about the investigation and then revealed information that led to further charges of another count of exploitation of a minor by a school employee and six counts of sex abuse in the third-degree,” Raaymakers said.

“With the cooperation from the second victim, the investigation moved extremely quickly. With the help of the county attorney’s office and their review process and the execution of a search warrant and his [Baker’s] arrest within 24 hours of the second victim’s cooperation.”

Police said a search warrant was executed at Baker’s home and the 14-year-old’s phone was also used to corroborate their contact together.

According to the affidavits, the teen told the resource officer Baker began to have contact with him around the end of November after they had contact on Grindr.

He said nude photos were exchanged between the two and that they also had contact through Snapchat, according to the affidavits.

The teen said the two had sex several times, including at Baker’s home, according to the affidavits.

He was able to describe the inside of the home and Baker’s bedroom.

The teen said the incidents at Baker’s home occurred shortly after March 13 and continued until early June, according to the affidavits.

Raaymakers said in this case, the school resource officer was “instrumental in obtaining the information and following up on the information that was truly school-based at that time and had the ability to do those follow-ups to conduct this investigation.”

A TV6 investigation revealed Baker was a scoutmaster of a local Boy Scouts troop.  The organization also has a strict background process in place.

“Everybody here is registered in the Boy Scouts of America, must take mandatory youth protection training, and must go through a criminal background check and obviously pass it,” said Jeff Doty, Scout executive of the Illowa Council.

Doty told TV6 the organization took immediate action and revoked Baker’s membership months ago when the first allegation surfaced.

"We've determined we don't believe any of our scouts were involved in any way, but we wanted to make them aware as parents to check with their scouts," said Doty.

“We’re a first reporter agency so as soon as we heard about [it] the first thing, we did was verify the local authorities had been notified and we verified that had been the case.”

Doty continued, “Any time this situation comes up it’s sad to hear about. I’m heartened to know our system works well. Parents -- when they become a member of scouting -- they can feel comfortable our system works well and once an allegation is made against somebody, we are swift in our response.”

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