In May 2015, Ernest Baker, Drake-approved writer and self-appointed internet tastemaker, allegedly assaulted and harassed his ex-girlfriend, Complex Music managing editor Lauren Nostro. The news gained public attention Wednesday night after the pair’s mutual friend, the writer Meaghan Garvey, vaguely tweeted about what may be Baker’s actions without referencing him by name. Baker’s lawyer has confirmed to Jezebel that her client has been formally charged with assault, menacing and harassment.
Rumors are now circulating that Baker, as a result of the alleged assault, has lost his book deal with Grand Central Publishing. In September, the publishing house (a division of Hachette) announced that they were “excited to announce the acquisition of HOW TO DATE WHITE WOMEN by acclaimed journalist Ernest Baker,” to be published in early 2017. The news came after a banner year for Baker, a writer and DJ who became particularly popular after Drake mentioned him on Instagram.
Since then, Baker (who, like Nostro, is acquaintances with several Jezebel staffers; Baker has also been edited at The Hairpin by Jezebel editor-in-chief Emma Carmichael) published a profile on his acquaintance for Four Pins, and claimed to help name Drake’s mixtape with Future, What a Time to Be Alive. He has been lauded by publications like Forbes for being “a social rockstar,” and has begun designing apparel. Baker’s book deal came after a piece he wrote entitled “The Reality of Dating White Women When You’re Black” was published on Gawker in June 2014; Grand Central called the piece “one of the highest trafficked pieces in Gawker’s history, with millions of unique hits and thousands of comments.” The publisher’s press release said that the book would discuss historical interracial relationships and the modern experience, coupled with stories from Baker’s life and dating history.
But just as Baker’s star was rising, his personal life appears to have been tanking. “Your fav ‘rap journalist’ put his ex-gf in the hospital & ducked the bill, but keep telling me about the misogyny of a thinkpiece,” Garvey wrote on Twitter late Wednesday night. “‘How to abuse women,’ in stores Nevruary 13th.” Soon after, it seems, her tweets prompted Nostro to send some of her own. Nostro responded to Garvey’s tweets affirmatively, posting a photo of her face after the alleged incident, but not did not name Baker.
Reports obtained by Jezebel show that Nostro went to the emergency room seeking treatment for a laceration on her chin on the night of May 5, 2015. Nostro told Jezebel that hospital staff called police to report a possible domestic violence incident involving Baker.
Nostro told the nurses she was injured falling down the stairs of the apartment she still shared with Baker, though the pair was mostly broken up at this point (she later admitted the pair did not have stairs in their apartment). Nostro later said that the nurse and doctor attending to her “saw bruising on my neck from when he grabbed me and said the gash on my chin was not consistent with a fall,” prompting them to call domestic violence police officers to the hospital. Nostro did not file charges against Baker that night, though she alleges that the police have “a non-public record of being called to Woodhull that night.”
The medical record confirms that Nostro was treated for “a laceration to her chin which she states occurred when her boyfriend oushedher and she fell hiting the grund” [sic’d].
At left, a photo of Nostro after receiving stitches; at right, one month later.
Nostro didn’t file a police report about the assault until September 20—she says she was waiting for Baker to pay her hospital bill—when she filed at the 90th Precinct. Both her report and the officer’s state that she and Baker got into a fight which escalated and became violent on both sides. From Nostro’s statement to the police:
We only had one set of keys and got into an argument over them when I left the East Village at dinner. He grabbed my arm on the L, we took different cars home, I went to the Black Swan for two glasses of red wine. Upon returning home, we got into an argument over a $45 wifi/optimum bill and I grabbed his pile of ID cards with his debit card and I broke it. A fight ensued and he put his hands around my neck. I threatened to bleach his clothes with Tide if he did not leave the house. We got into a physical fight in the closet of our apartment, he shoved me into my shelf organizer. I got up and shoved him and he threw me out of the closet where I landed on my chin. I went to Woodhull for stitches, they called the police after seeing my neck and face. I didn’t press charges because I was scared. Had to get stitches and plastic surgery consultations.
Photos provided to Jezebel depict a hole in the wall of the pair’s apartment from a bottle of Hennessy that Nostro alleges that Baker threw in October 2014, along with miscellaneous furniture, pictured strewn about. Nostro tells Jezebel that that incident began with an argument: Nostro told Baker she had been unfaithful and wanted to break up.
Shortly after that, by Nostro’s account in conversation with Jezebel, she arrived back at the apartment to find a bloodied butcher knife and a napkin Baker had left for her to see. Another photo from November 2014 shows a cut on Nostro’s hand “that later required 7 stitches from a plastic surgeon,” she says. Nostro alleges that her hand was injured when Baker “mentioned a lewd sexual act that I had done with another man in front of a group of friends watching the AMAs, after which I kicked everyone out, smacked him, and he threw a glass of red wine on me, which I threw back and then cut my hand on.”
Texts and gchats supplied to Jezebel show emotionally abusive conversations between the couple. Baker repeatedly calls Nostro a “whore” for being unfaithful, although Nostro alleges he had cheated on her as well.
The police report filed by Nostro notes that Baker has a history of suicidal threats, and says he made threats to “injure/kill self.”
Following the tweets from last night, Baker released his own messages on Twitter, including a lengthy typed statement. In it, he accuses Nostro of calling him “nigger,” and of being violent towards him as well.
“It disgusts me that innocent black men are still wrongly crucified in 2015,” he wrote. “It’s entitled, racist attitudes like hers that lead to the murders of so many unarmed innocent black men.”
When contacted for comment, Baker directed Jezebel to his lawyer, who confirmed that he was charged with assault, menacing and harassment, recently turned himself in, and was released without bail. The case is still open.
As for his book deal, Grand Central Publishing has not responded to a request for comment. We spoke to Baker’s literary agent Anthony Mattero of Foundry Literary + Media, who declined to give a response about the status of his relationship with Baker.
Baker turned 27 on December 1. “Never thoughts of suicide i’m too alive,” he wrote to a fan asking him not to kill himself this year so he can “be in the 27 club.” According to his social media presence, Baker is in a new relationship, and his girlfriend is apparently pregnant.
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Top images via Lauren Nostro/Twitter and Ernest Baker/Instagram