The large crosspost reflects the newsgroups discussing the Baker case, as far as I am aware. If you followup this message, please set the newsgroups line appropriately for your discussion.
This posting contains information from Jim Schaefer and Maryanne George's (with contributions from Christopher Cook) 6/22/95 Detroit Free Press article "Internet author's charges dismissed". The Free Press is available on compuserve (GO DETROIT) and aol (keyword MERCURY). The Free Press also has a homepage at http://gopher.det-freepress.com:9002/
Cohn ruled that the government failed to show intent to carry out a threat, which is required for conviction.
"The government's enthusiastic beginning petered out to a salvage effort once it recognized that the communication which so much alarmed the University of Michigan officials was only a rather savage and tasteless piece of fiction," wrote Judge Cohn in his decision, referring to the dropped charges relating to Baker's rape/snuff stories and the 5 charges of transmitting interstate threats in the Baker-Gonda email exchanges..
Cohn also quoted a court case from 1886:
"There is so much opportunity for magnifying or misunderstanding undefined menaces that probably as much mischief would be caused by letting them be prosecuted as by refraining from it."
Paul Denenfeld, the legal director of the ACLU, applauded the decision.
"I think Judge Cohn did the right thing," said Denenfeld. "The language was offensive but not an imminent threat to anyone. People should not have to stand trial for private thoughts and fantasies."
Federal officials disagreed with Cohn's ruling.
"We strongly disagree with the court's reasoning in the decision," said US Attorney Saul Green. Green will decide in a day or two whether to appeal the decision.
The lead FBI agent, Greg Stejskal, said the decision that Baker's writings lacked intent made him worry.
"As a husband and a father of a daughter, it looks like a threat to me," said Stejskal.
Susan McGee, executive director of the Domestic Violence Project in Washtenaw County, said the ruling "show the judicial system in the United States is more interested in men's rights to torture, beat, and harass women than it is in women's right to live their lives in peace and safety."
Baker gained notoriety when the University of Michigan suspended him after he named a classmate as the victim in a fictional story of rape, torture, and murder. Shortly thereafter, Baker was arrested by the FBI and held without bond for 29 days on the grounds that he was too dangerous to release. In March, federal charges based on the story were dropped, and Baker was charged with transmitting threats across state lines in his email conversation with a Canadian man, Arthur Gonda.
The University of Michigan is maintaining its suspension of Baker.
Baker has reportedly withdrawn from the University of Michigan, and is attending a community college in Ohio.
No information is available on the woman named in Baker's story.
Arthur Gonda has not been found by Canadian authorities, and it is believed that the name is a pseudonym.
| Peter J. Swanson | firstname.lastname@example.org |
| PhD Candidate | controls specialist |
| Electrical Engineering:Systems | impact, chaotic motion, |
| University of Michigan | vibratory part orientation |