Dramatic turn in Harry Baker case testimony
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A teenager is telling her story of alleged molestation by an elderly former Madera County supervisor.
"He pushed me on the bed and he began to touch me," she testified Monday.
But in the middle of her testimony against Harry Baker, the case took a dramatic turn.
Two of the pillars of the case against Baker crumbled in court Monday.
There's a video recording of the incident, but the judge wouldn't allow it as evidence because Baker didn't know he was being recorded.
And then the prosecution's big loss: The alleged victim decided in the middle of testimony that she didn't want to say any more.
Baker's slow walks to Fresno County courthouses may be nearly over.
Five years after allegedly molesting a 13-year-old girl, Baker faced her in court for the first time Monday.
She says the 84-year-old fondled her in 2007.
"He touched my breast, then he touched my part under," she said. "I don't really want to say it, but..."
The girl is referred to in court as "Jane Doe" and we're not showing her face because she's the alleged victim of a sex crime.
The entire incident inside Baker's Fresno hotel room was secretly recorded, and the teenager admitted adults coaxed her into the room, knowing exactly what Baker might do.
"And you went into that room because Lisa Marshall told you that if you did this, you would be able to buy a car and get money, correct?" defense attorney Rick Berman asked her.
"Yes," the girl said.
"And you knew this was going to be a blackmail?" Berman asked.
As she verged on confessing to the crime of blackmail, a judge stopped the girl and assigned her a public defender.
"At this point, Your Honor, she wishes to exercise her right under the Fifth Amendment and remain silent," said public defense Manuel Nieto.
At that point, the teen's testimony came to a screeching halt, leaving prosecutors holding a nearly empty bag.
Baker's defense attorney admits his client touched the teen, but denied that it involved fondling, despite Baker's payments to the girl's family after the incident.
"So why did he pay $250,000 to this person's family?" an Action News reporter asked Berman.
"You know I'm not going to answer that unless it's in a court pleading," said Berman, but he changed his mind mid-sentence.
"Well, I'll tell you why: because he's an old man and they were trying to ruin what he had left of his life."
With no videotape and without the alleged victim's testimony, the prosecution had very little evidence left to make their case.
But Action News talked to the district attorney's office spokesperson late Monday afternoon, and she told us the girl will get immunity and return to the witness stand Tuesday.
madera county, crimetracker, local, corin hoggard
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