Teacher's Sentencing Delayed

Teacher's Sentencing Delayed

Just when it seemed as if things couldn't get worse for Centreville's Vanessa Baker, 27, a former teacher and coach at two Reston schools — and now a convicted felon — they did.

The day before she was to be sentenced for engaging in consensual sodomy with a 15-year-old Reston girl, police arrested Baker's husband David, a teacher at Franklin Middle School, and charged him with assaulting both his wife and the teen-ager.

THE CATALYST for this unexpected turn of events was an apparently unannounced visit by the girl to the Bakers' home April 10. It reportedly caused David Baker to lose his temper in frustration and rage, and it also caused his wife's sentencing to be delayed for two weeks.

Vanessa Baker's crime was enough for her to lose her job with the Fairfax County school system. Paul Regnier, Fairfax County Public Schools community relations director, said following David Baker's arrest, he has been placed on "unpaid administrative leave."

The crime first came to light a year ago. The girl, then 14 and a freshman at South Lakes High, told her school's police officer she was dating an older woman.

"She said the woman wanted to end the affair, but she [the girl] didn't," said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Katie Swart, on Jan. 27 when Vanessa Baker pleaded guilty in Circuit Court. "She said the woman told her it would be OK once she was 18."

Vanessa Baker taught for two years in the county. She was in her second year of teaching physical education at Langston Hughes Middle School and was the freshman girls basketball coach at South Lakes when police arrested her on June 12.

Said Swart: "[The girl] was on the freshman basketball team at South Lakes, and the affair had started while she was in the eighth grade at Langston Hughes [Middle School]." The school resource officer reported the case to police, and a detective put Vanessa Baker under surveillance.

AFTER A FEW MONTHS, police confronted Vanessa Baker at her home. Although she at first claimed she had only mentored the teen, Swart said she eventually admitted that the relationship became sexual during Christmas break 2001. Their last time together was June 7, five days before Baker's arrest. And all along, said Swart, the victim maintained that "she still cared for the defendant."

Police charged Vanessa Baker with statutory rape and custodial indecent liberties. In January, Vanessa Baker pleaded guilty to an amended charge. She entered an Alford plea, not admitting guilt, but acknowledging the existence of enough evidence to convict her.

Facing as much as five years in prison, Vanessa Baker appeared Friday, April 11, in Circuit Court for sentencing by Judge Arthur Vierreg Jr. But instead, her attorney, William Tabot, asked for a continuance. He said the victim showed up on her own at Vanessa Baker's home the day before, and her husband had gotten angry and had been arrested, himself.

Tabot said it meant that, if his client was sentenced and incarcerated that day, there would be no one to look after her 7-year-old daughter and she needed time to arrange for child care. The judge agreed to postpone her sentencing until April 25.

But Swart advised Vierreg that, if Vanessa Baker had indeed let the teen into her home, she had violated the terms of the bond that had allowed her to remain free until sentencing. Said Swart: "If this is substantiated, I'd ask the court to revoke her bond because she's not supposed to have contact with [the victim]."

AS FOR HER HUSBAND, police say David Baker, 30, arrived home Thursday, April 10, around 2:30 p.m., and reportedly found his wife talking to the girl. According to police, "An argument ensued and Baker [allegedly] assaulted both his wife and the girl." Police say the incident occurred around 2:45 p.m.; they arrested the husband after the girl called them.

David Baker was charged with domestic assault and malicious wounding. He was released Friday from the Adult Detention Center on $2,500 bond and has a May 12 court date. He has been a school-system employee since Sept. 1, 2000 and taught P.E. just this year at Franklin Middle School.