LAWTON — Another Fort Sill soldier has been convicted of sexual misconduct with a child, the latest in a spate of such incidents involving personnel at the state’s largest military installation.
Authorities accused Pfc. H. Cohen Baker of committing a sex act on a girl between the ages of 12 and 16, sending and soliciting lewd pictures and possessing child pornography. He also was charged with wrongfully using two over-the-counter medications: Coricidin and Dramamine.
The incidents occurred in August and September, 2012. Baker, who entered the service in September 2011, served with Headquarters Support Battery, 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade. A fort spokesman said Baker was not married and that he was not related to the victim.
A military judge, Lt. Col. Wade N. Faulkner, ordered that Baker be reduced to the lowest rank and receive a bad conduct discharge following a two-day trial last week. He did not receive jail time and was not required to forfeit pay. The discipline still must be approved by the fort’s commanding general, who could lessen the punishment.
Baker is at least the sixth soldier from the Army post to be convicted at court-martial of sexual misconduct with a child since July 2012. Two soldiers are awaiting trial. Two other soldiers have been found not guilty of such charges since mid-April. None of the cases are related. The number of Fort Sill soldiers tried in civilian courts on similar charges could not immediately be determined. Soldiers convicted of sexual misconduct can be required to register as sex offenders.
Fort Sill officials previously issued a statement saying they take all sexual assault cases very seriously, and “any assault case involving a minor is particularly heinous.”
The November statement attributed the uptick in such cases to “the exhaustive work of Fort Sill investigators and prosecutors that are able to bring these cases before a military court expeditiously.”
Oklahoma City attorney Brent Dishman, who frequently represents military members accused of misconduct, said he thinks the recent run of cases at Fort Sill is just random circumstance. Dishman, a former Air Force defense attorney, said he saw a similar spike in child sexual misconduct cases while serving at Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas. Dyess has about 5,000 service members. Fort Sill has twice that many.
“I don’t think it’s Fort Sill, or the city of Lawton or the command climate,’’ Dishman said. “If anything, It’s a sign of good law enforcement.”
Fort Sill is about 85 miles southwest of Oklahoma City and primarily serves as the Army's field artillery school and training center. It is one of a handful of Army posts nationwide where basic combat training is conducted. The post is home to about 10,000 military personnel and 5,800 civilian workers.