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Judge sentences Decatur sex offender to 5 years amid concern he will offend again

Judge sentences Decatur sex offender to 5 years amid concern he will offend again

Joseph A. Baker

Joseph A. Baker 

DECATUR — A Decatur man who admitted to sexually abusing girls younger than 13, and who was described in an evaluation report as likely to re-offend, was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday.

Joseph A. Baker, 48, had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Class 2 felonies. Macon County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Geisler sentenced Baker to five years on each charge, but ordered the sentences to run concurrently. Baker will also receive more than a year off his sentence as credit for the same amount of time spent in custody since he was arrested in October 2018.

In a plea agreement negotiated by defense attorney Scott Rueter, prison time in the case was capped at six years.

Decatur police reports said Baker had been picked up on a warrant following his release from prison in Wisconsin, where he had been imprisoned for three years after being convicted of child pornography offenses. The sex abuse charges predated the pornography conviction.

Appealing for mercy, Baker told the judge he was a changed man after undergoing treatment programs while in prison.

“I have taken the sex offender evaluation program offered in Wisconsin and I have taken the drug and alcohol programs in Wisconsin,” said Baker. “And through those programs I have learned quite a bit; I am not the same person that I was three years ago. I know how to control myself now in a positive manner ... 

“I would only ask you to have mercy and possibly give me probation ... give me that second chance that you know everybody deserves in life.”

But Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Kate Kurtz said Baker was a menace that society must be protected from. She referred to an evaluation of Baker that described him as being at “high risk” of committing more sex crimes.

“His attraction to children under 13 has persisted over time ...” Kurtz said. “And he seems to have no faith in himself as to how he can or should control his own destiny or behavior.”

Passing the sentence, Geisler said that being told Baker was likely to re-offend “caused the court a lot of concern.” He added, “I do find it necessary for the protection of the public for the defendant to be sentenced to the Department of Corrections.”

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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