AUSTIN, Texas – An Austin Fire Department lieutenant is facing charges for invasive visual recording after allegedly filming a female firefighter in a locker room.
James William Baker, 52, is accused of hiding a video camera in the Austin Central Fire Station. On Sept. 4 a woman told police around 3 p.m. she found a camera pointed at the showers in the women’s locker room.
"It's disgusting, despicable behavior. We want no part of it,” said Bob Nicks, president of the Austin Firefighters Association. "We are very concerned. This is a huge break in trust. You literally depend on your brother and sister firefighters with your life on a day to day basis."
According to the affidavit, as the victim was walking into the locker room she saw Baker walking out. Moments later she noticed blue light coming from inside a coiled cord of Christmas lights on a shelf. After investigating the victim said she found a spy camera concealed in the lights.
An estimated seven hours later the affidavit states that Baker approached her and said, “I think you know what we need to talk about.” The victim said that Baker then admitted to her that the camera belonged to him. She said he apologized and tried to make a deal with her to keep the camera. He even offered to retire or let her keep the camera’s memory card.
The victim did not comply with Baker and instead gave the camera to police. Investigators viewed the footage and witnessed Baker placing the camera in the locker room around 3 p.m.
Baker admitted to police that he hid the camera in the locker room with the intent to later view the recordings. In the affidavit he said he knew he did not have the consent of the victim to film her and was just curious to see what she did in the locker room.
Baker retired from the department on Sept. 6. He is in currently in custody at the Travis County Jail facing a felony charge.
The Austin Firefighters Association claims this is not the first time Baker has faced allegations of misconduct. The Association says they represented him four years ago, while he was accused of inappropriate touching of patients, while out on medical calls.
"He said he was innocent and we believed him and we represented him, but shortly afterwards because the small investigation that was done by the office of the medical director, it became very apparent that that misconduct occurred,” said Nicks.
According to the Firefighters Association, an internal investigation was conducted, but it remains unclear what came of that investigation.
The fire department turned over all evidence to the APD. They would not confirm or deny the past allegations.
The Austin Firefighters Associaton also issued a lengthy statement which can be found on the organization's website.