LIMA — A former Shawnee High School teacher was sentenced Tuesday to 4 1/2 years in prison for having illicit sexual relations with a 14-year-old female student.
Kyle Baker, 28, was sentenced to 48 months behind bars on three counts of sexual battery, third-degree felonies, related to his sexual relationship with the young student. Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge David Cheney also sentenced Baker to six months in prison on a felony charge of tampering with evidence for Baker’s attempt to pass letters to the girl even while he was incarcerated in the county jail.
That six-month sentence is to be served consecutively to the sentence on the sexual battery charges, resulting in a total time behind bars of 54 months, the judge said. Cheney left open the prospect that Baker will be strongly considered as a candidate for early judicial release, dependant upon his conduct while in prison.
Emotions were running high in the courtroom during Tuesday’s hearing. Baker’s mother and two family friends spoke on behalf of the former teacher in asking the court for leniency.
Joe Campoli, a former head basketball coach at Ohio Northern University and a family friend, called Baker “a young man I would risk my reputation for.” Campoli said he visited Baker in jail on several occasions “and he admitted to making a great mistake. I think he needs the opportunity to start to rebuild his life.”
Another family friend, Rev. Jack Duffy of First Baptist Church in Ada, told the judge that members of his congregation have offered to provide employment for Baker “to help him get back on his feet.”
“He has been humbled,” Duffy said of Baker. “He realizes he violated the trust that was placed in him and he seeks forgiveness from the victim and her mother, even though I told him that may not be possible.”
Kathryn Baker, the defendant’s mother, said her son was raised “to know right from wrong,” but that he nonetheless “committed a terrible crime which has disgusted our whole family. But he is still my son and I am committed to trying to help him.”
Mrs. Baker said the family has told Kyle “to seek the Lord, ask for forgiveness and face the consequences.”
Shawnee police were alerted late in 2017 of a possible relationship involving a teacher and a student at Shawnee High School. Because the school was on holiday break, a detective checked the suspect’s address for the vehicle of the teacher for a possible follow-up. Baker and the student were subsequently found together in the former teacher’s vehicle, and both were taken to the Shawnee Police Department and interviewed. The Allen County Prosecutor’s Office authorized preliminary charges against Baker. A grand jury later indicted Baker on five counts of sexual battery, five counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and tampering with evidence.
He pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors to the three counts of sexual battery and one count of tampering.
Assistant Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Destiny Caldwell told Cheney during Tuesday’s hearing that the seriousness of Baker’s actions cannot be overlooked or condoned.
“The pre-sentence investigation shows that this victim suffered serious psychological harm as a result of this incident. She will have to deal with that for the rest of her life,” said Caldwell. Baker, according to the prosecutor, was in a position of trust as the girl’s teacher and violated that trust by exhibiting what was “clearly predatory behavior.”
Baker addressed the court immediately prior to being sentenced, offering apologies to the victim and her family, his own family “and to everyone involved; if it were not for my foolishness we would not be here today.”
Baker, whose hands were shaking as he read a prepared statement, said, “What I did was wrong, and no excuse can justify my actions. Everything is 110 percent my fault. I’ve humiliated myself and my family and I take ownership of my poor choices.”
As part of his sentence, Baker was designated a Tier 3 sex offender and must register his address every 90 days for the rest of his life.
Reach J Swygart at 567-242-0464.