Teacher Charged with Child Sex Crimes

Teacher Charged with Child Sex Crimes

A Centreville resident who taught and coached in Reston schools has been arrested and charged with sexual crimes involving a minor. She is Vanessa Baker, 26, of 6103 Montjoy Court in the Sunset Ridge community.

Charged with carnal knowledge and custodial indecent liberties, she has already been suspended without pay from her jobs with the Fairfax County school system. If convicted, she could be sentenced to as much as 15 years in prison.

According to county police, Baker allegedly had a relationship with an acquaintance under age 18. They say a "series of incidents" reportedly occurred "in various locations in Fairfax County" during the past year.

Baker had taught two years in the county school system. She was in her second year of teaching physical education at Langston Hughes Middle School and, for the past year, she was the freshman girls basketball coach at South Lakes High.

To protect the identity of the alleged victim, police are only releasing the barest minimum of information about this case. Spokeswoman Sophia Grinnan also said police will not reveal whether the minor in question is male or female — nor if he/she was a student or relative of Baker's — "because of the fragile emotional state of the person involved. Our responsibility is to keep them safe."

Grinnan did say, though, that a third party reported the information to a school resource officer who "looked into it." She would not say at which school the officer worked. Police followed up, and their investigation led to Baker's arrest, last Wednesday, June 12.

Although her case has not yet come to court, school-system spokesman Paul Regnier said Baker was suspended without pay because she was arrested. He also noted that the school system always does its own investigation into such matters. As for Baker's ultimate fate as a teacher here, he said, "Obviously, if she is convicted, that would influence [what we do about her]."

Meanwhile, South Lakes athletic director Pat Henthorn declined to say anything at all about Baker — even about her coaching abilities in general. Aside from confirming that the Centreville woman had only coached basketball there for a year, she said, "It's a personnel issue, and I can't discuss it."

After being taken to the Adult Detention Center, Baker was released Friday on $10,000 bond and has a July 26 court date. Carnal knowledge is punishable by as much as 10 years in prison, and custodial indecent liberties carries a possible five-year maximum penalty.