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Convicted molester accused of coaching

Adams prosecutors say he assisted team of high school girls

Baker

A former Central Noble teacher and coach convicted of child molesting more than a decade ago is in trouble again, this time for volunteering as a coach at another area school district.

Paul D. Baker, 48, of Monroeville faces two Class D felony charges of unlawful employment near children by a sexual predator. Filed in Adams County this month, the charges accuse Baker, a former high school basketball coach, of working as a volunteer for the South Adams High School girls basketball team last season.

Baker is on probation for his 2001 conviction in Noble County on charges of Class B felony child molesting and misdemeanor charges of battery. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but through education credits was able to cut his time to three years. He was released in 2004.

According to court documents, while athletic director Mike Pries said Baker had “not asked to help in any way,” Baker was asked by the team’s head coach to view a couple of game films of South Adams’ opponents and provide a report to the coaching staff.

Baker had a connection to the South Adams High School basketball program, according to court documents.

The girls basketball head coach, as well as the junior varsity coach, told an Adams County sheriff’s deputy that Baker never attended practices, and while he had been present at some “open gyms,” he did not assist, according to court documents.

But members of the basketball team told investigators Baker had attended some of the practices, attended open gyms during the summer of 2011 and occasionally helped players with various moves, according to court documents.

One of the girls told investigators that Baker “wouldn’t always attend practice but would hang out with (Pries).” Another player said Baker was introduced as the team’s scout by the head coach, according to court documents.

During an interview in March, Pries told investigators he had known Baker for more than 20 years and maintained that Baker did not attend the team’s practices, according to court documents.

When probation officers went to Baker’s Allen County home, he denied attending the team’s practices. He said he was at the school at the time, but he was assisting in stocking the concession cooler and setting up athletic equipment. He admitted to scouting and being present at open gyms.

In February, Noble County Prosecutor Steve Clouse and probation officials asked for Baker’s probation to be revoked because he was violating the terms of his probation, specifically the requirement that prohibited him, as a registered sex offender, from being at places where children were present.

Then, this month, an additional request was filed to revoke his probation because of the new felony charges in Adams County, according to Clouse and court records.

In 2001, Baker admitted to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, lifting up the shirt of another girl and kissing her stomach as she lay on his bed, and putting his hands around the throat of a woman. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and eight years on probation, under the terms of a plea agreement. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender.

A licensed teacher at the time of his sentencing, Baker already had a bachelor’s degree but obtained an additional bachelor’s degree as well as an associate degree to get his time behind bars reduced. After his release in 2004, the law was changed so that prisoners with degrees cannot obtain equal or lesser degrees in exchange for time off their sentences.

Baker has a status hearing in August in Noble County and is scheduled to stand trial on the Adams County charges in September.

rgreen@jg.net

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