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Man Arrested for Rape-Murder 'Threat' on Internet

February 12, 1995|DAVID GOODMAN | ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT — A University of Michigan sophomore said he was simply exercising his right to free speech when he posted a story on the Internet describing his wish to rape, torture and kill a woman in his Japanese class.

"Torture is foreplay, rape is romance, snuff (killing) is climax," one transmission said, according to a federal criminal complaint against Jake Baker of Boardman, Ohio.

Baker, 20, was arrested Thursday and charged with interstate transmission of a threat to injure, a federal charge that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

U.S. Magistrate Thomas A. Carlson found the graphic descriptions carried on the worldwide computer network serious enough to order Baker held without bond overnight, and he extended the no-bond order Friday.

"This is more than just writing a story," Carlson said Friday, adding that Baker identified the woman by name in the transmission and corresponded by computer with another man on where and how to carry out such an assault.

"Just thinking about it any more doesn't do the trick," Carlson quoted Baker's computer messages as saying. "I need to do it."

Baker made no comment at Friday's hearing. His attorney, Douglas R. Mulkoff, said he would appeal the bond decision. He said the story was not a threat because it was a fantasy and was never communicated to the woman.

The U.S. attorney's office had recommended Thursday that Baker be freed on $100,000 bond. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Chadwell said Friday that the office now supports holding him without bond.

Baker was suspended from the university a week ago.

Before he was led away Thursday, Baker said, "I wrote this story four months ago. I haven't harmed anyone. I think it is a violation of my First Amendment rights and probably several other rights."

The name of the woman identified in Baker's Internet transmission was withheld in the complaint, which refers to her as Jane Doe. She took Japanese with Baker in the fall but they apparently did not know each other beyond that.

In other Internet files found in a compartment labeled "alt.sex.stories," Baker and a man from Ontario, Canada, exchanged messages in which they discussed meeting to carry out a sex attack.

The transmissions "described Baker's desire to commit acts of abduction, bondage, torture, mutilation, sodomy, rape and murder of young women," FBI Agent Greg Stejskal said in an affidavit.

The complaint said the university's Department of Public Safety became aware of the messages Jan. 19 and contacted Baker the next day. The person who notified the university was an Internet user in Moscow who happened to be a University of Michigan graduate.

Baker's mother, Vilma, attended Friday's hearing and defended her son afterward, saying his writing was "pure fantasy. He is not dangerous. The judge must have woken up this morning and thought he was a psychiatrist."

She said he selected the woman who was named after hearing the name in a class of 200 students.

"Her last name is a sexual pun, and that is why he used her name," said Vilma Baker, a high school English and literature teacher. "Shakespeare would have loved it."

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