Trial begins for sex offender accused of harassing Temecula girl

RIVERSIDE – Jury selection got underway today for the trial of a convicted sex offender accused of trying to coax a 12-year-old Temecula girl into his car before he was interrupted by an off-duty law enforcement officer.
Robert Francis Baker, 69, of Hemet was arrested last August after he was allegedly caught in the act of harassing the victim, whose identity was not disclosed.
Baker, who is acting as his own attorney, is charged with attempted kidnapping to commit rape, annoying a child and two counts of possession of child pornography.
The case was assigned to the courtroom of Riverside County Superior Court Judge Michael Donner, who summoned several panels of prospective jurors to the Riverside Hall of Justice for screening as to their availability and suitability.
Opening statements in the trial could begin as early as Wednesday morning.
A District Attorney’s Office investigator was driving through the area of Pauba Road and Linfield Way on the afternoon of Aug. 12 when he noticed a motorist accosting the victim as she walked along the sidewalk.
The man — later identified as Baker — allegedly followed the girl, trying to persuade her to get into his car. The off-duty investigator came to the child’s aid, ordering Baker out of the vehicle and detaining him until sheriff’s deputies arrived to question him.
Based on the girl’s statements, what the D.A.’s Office investigator witnessed and the fact that Baker was a registered sex offender, he was arrested at the scene.
According to court records, the defendant was convicted in 1993 of multiple counts of lewd acts on a minor.
Baker is being held in lieu of $1.5 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.

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