Mugshot of paedophile psychologist Craig Baker. Supplied
Mugshot of paedophile psychologist Craig Baker. Supplied

‘TWISTED’: Coffs child psychologist preyed on young patients

A SEXUAL predator lied about his crimes in the United States to become a child psychologist on the Coffs Coast where he had free reign to prey on the most vulnerable boys and young men who had come to him for help.

Now Craig Myles Baker's deviance has caught up with him - he'll serve at least 12 years in prison alongside inmates who are baying for his blood - and his face can finally be revealed.

The 54-year-old Baker has been sentenced in the NSW District Court for 13 charges after he "abused his position of trust and authority" to groom and sexually assault male patients as young as nine-years-old.

The court heard Baker's sordid sexual crimes began in Ohio in 1992, when the then bank worker exposed himself to a juvenile at a building site.

He later exposed himself in a public library in 1993 before being sentenced to a three year jail term over the repeated sexual assault of a friend's 9-year-old son in 1995.

Baker was born in South Africa but emigrated to Australia and had been a citizen since 1974.

He put his hand up to be deported back to Australia at the end of his sentence and set about reinventing himself.

The convicted criminal graduated as a psychologist from the University of NSW in 2012 and, when he applied for registration in 2013 he told the governing board he had no prior convictions anywhere.

"It was based on a lie," Judge James Bennett said last week.

"His registration came through a false declaration. It was a breach of trust in the patients and the parents of the children - as well as a breach of trust in the medical profession generally."

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency refused to comment on Baker's case but said they had checks in place to uphold their "rigorous national standards".

AHPRA say they introduced international criminal history checks in 2015. But court documents say Baker was able to re-register that year and in the years until his arrest.

That year he began working as a child psychologist in Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads and his perversions quickly went into full swing.

Documents released by the court show he was "regularly referred children and adults" by employment, doctors and health services in the area, was "well regarded" and was one of the few bulk billing psychologists.

A 20-year-old man had complained to Coffs Harbour Police, one month after Baker began working in 2015, saying the psychologist put his hands down the young man's shorts and grabbed his genitals.

The young man reported it but Baker denied the accusation and no charge was laid.

Baker offended without interruption until, two years later in May 2017, he assaulted an 11-year-old boy in a similar way.

"I never want to see him again," the boy told his mother before explaining the assault.

The mother told police and Baker again denied he had done anything wrong - this time he was arrested and charged.

 

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The media reports quickly swept through the Coffs Coast and six more victims came forward with harrowing tales of his abuse.

One boy saw Baker about 30 times for his anxiety. Baker touched the boy's penis, over his clothes, when he was just 10-years-old.

Over two years Baker had repeatedly violated his patient.

On one occasion he showed the boy pornography and lubricant in his office - investigators say he was trying to "procure" him for sex.

A co-worker found the lubricant and condoms in Baker's desk - he told her it was for "sex education" with a teenage patient and their parents.

In another session he masturbated in front of the boy for ten minutes.

Another boy with a long history of emotional issues, including suicidality from the age of eight, saw Baker as a teenager.

Baker watched porn in front of that patient as well and assured his mother he was "having a breakthrough" after she queried a three hour appointment.

He made another young man, 23, strip and stand naked in the window of the office, which overlooked a main street in town.

Another young man, 25, was ordered to stand naked outside a public toilet block for what the psychologist called "exposure therapy". Baker was 50 at that time.

His final appointment with that young man, where he again assaulted his patient, took place in May 2017, after he had been deregistered for assaulting the 11-year-old, the court documents say.

One survivor of his abuse, in a letter to the court, said he'd felt "more trapped as time progressed" with Baker.

"Craig abused me at my most vulnerable time," he said.

"Craig inflicted the same trauma upon me that I originally was there to get help for."

The boy said not a single day in his life passes without Baker's "twisted" actions impacting every element of his life and relationships.

During his sentence the court heard Baker had suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of his father as a child as well as from peers during school.

However Judge Bennett said he was not satisfied there was a causal link between the claims from his formative years to his crimes, and noted there were inconsistencies in Baker's claims of bullying.

The judge also did not believe Baker was remorseful for his actions - noting Baker had previously indicated he was going to reverse his guilty pleas and change his lawyers.

"How does it look? Because it looks pretty bad from here," a worried Baker asked his lawyer during a court break on Friday.

A sentencing report, released by the court, said Baker had been bashed in custody at Grafton.

He'd had flashbacks since then and has been "hearing his name called out and feared people would be waiting outside his cell to assault him".

Appearing in court from the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre via audiovisual link, Baker appeared emotionless as Judge Bennett sentenced him to a 12 year non-parole period beginning from December 2017.

Baker will first be eligible for release in December 2029.


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