Bernardston man faces rape, indecent A&B charges

  • Aaron Michael Baker, left, stands as his attorney, Isaac Mass, addresses the jury pool in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 10/15/2019 10:55:01 PM

GREENFIELD — Jury selection started Tuesday for the case of a Bernardston man accused of performing non-consensual oral sex on a male acquaintance eight years ago.

Aaron Michael Baker, 30, faces three counts of rape and one count of indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or over from two alleged assaults involving different victims six years apart. But Franklin County Superior Court severed the rape charge stemming from 2011 from the latter three charges stemming from 2017, ordering the incidents to be tried separately. Another count of indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or over was dismissed due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.

Assistant District Attorney Sandra Staub is prosecuting the case for the commonwealth. Baker is represented by attorney Isaac Mass, who said that 12 of the 14 necessary jurors had been selected by the end of the day Tuesday. Mass had no further comment for the newspaper.

According to court documents, the alleged victim told Greenfield Police Sgt. Mark Williams he remembered waking up to Baker performing oral sex on him in Greenfield hours after the two had been socializing at a Hatfield bar the night of Sept. 10, 2011. The alleged victim told police he went to the bar with Baker around 9 p.m., and thought some of Baker’s friends would be there. The victim remembers consuming some drinks and vaguely recalls leaving the bar with Baker.

The alleged victim told police he was “out of it” and thought he was entering his apartment when in fact the two were in a Greenfield machine shop. He said he thought the oral sex was being performed by his wife until he regained consciousness and realized it was Baker.

Court documents state the alleged victim said he then started to vomit and Baker led him to a bathroom. The victim said Baker tried to encourage him to stay the night in an on-site apartment, but he demanded Baker bring him to his truck, which was still parked at Baker’s home. During the drive, Baker allegedly told the victim he was not gay but only experimenting, as he previously did with a friend who had since died.

The victim told police he drove home and vomited several more times. He said he was incapacitated and could not have given consent. He told police he believes he was drugged because he has a high tolerance for alcohol and did not consume enough to put him in such a physical state, court documents state.

According to Sgt. Williams, Baker said the oral sex was consensual and the two had been talking about trying it for a while. He also said the alleged victim never passed out, and he denied giving him any drugs.

Court documents state the alleged victim initially declined to press charges, but on April 11, 2018, he contacted Trooper William R. McMillan of the Massachusetts State Police to say he had changed his mind.

Judge Michael K. Callan worked with Staub and Mass to determine a jury pool Tuesday morning. Speaking to a courtroom of prospective jurors, Callan talked about the essence of the American justice system and how all defendants must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He stressed that the commonwealth has the burden of proof, and Baker does not need to prove his innocence or take the stand in his own defense.

The judge asked the prospective jurors a series of questions to identify any bias or hardship that would affect their ability to serve on the jury. One man indicated he knows Baker, and that same man and one woman indicated they know the alleged victim.

Callan said he expects the trial to last three to four days. The trial is set to continue Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-722-0261, ext. 262.


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