Last year, the Army demoted and retired a two-star general after he allegedly felt up a female advisor in Djibouti in 2012. Former Maj. Gen. Ralph O. Baker’s hushed departure is a far cry from the public trial of Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair earlier this year, though their punishments are similar: demotion with retirement.
Baker was the former commander of the U.S. military’s counter-terrorism task force for the Horn of Africa, according to the Washington Post, and was investigated for sexual assault. Still, he retired as a one-star general, which means he’s enjoying a sizable pension.
Instead of a trial in the limelight, Baker received “administrative punishment,” “a letter of reprimand,” an undisclosed fine and a dressing down from two-star to brigadier general. On the other hand, Sinclair was instructed to pay $20,000 after pleading guilty to charges of adultery, maltreatment and possession of pornography in a combat zone.
And though Baker was accused of sexual assault, he says he just was drunk.
“I own the fact that I got intoxicated that night at a social event, and I regret it,” Baker said. “It was irresponsible of me. I can understand that in the position of responsibility I had, something had to be done about it.”
Other soldiers, however, said that Baker was often liquored up at off-base events and they had to babysit him.
Baker says he retired in late 2013, but the U.S. Africa Command says Baker was actually fired in March by Army Gen. Carter Ham, who felt he wasn’t good at his job anymore. Perhaps that's because Baker appears to have put his hand in-between the legs of a female civilian policy advisor in the backseat of a utility vehicle as two soldiers drove up front.
The woman said that Baker drank wine heavily, and pushed his hand between her legs afterward while they were sitting in the back seat of a sport utility vehicle on the way back to Camp Lemonnier, the task force’s massive headquarters. She resisted his advances, but was too embarrassed to mention what was happening to a U.S. soldier and a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent who were sitting in the front seats, she said.
“I grabbed his hand and held it on the seat to try to prevent him from putting his hand deeper between my legs,” she told an investigating agent in a sworn statement. “He responded by smiling at me and saying, ‘Cat got your tongue?’ I was appalled about what he was doing to me and did not know what to say.”
Baker never admitted to any of the victim's story but one of the guys driving told investigators he remembered hearing “What, does that cat have your tongue?” though he didn’t know the context.
Image via the Army.