May 31, 2002
Officer Charged With Rape
UM Policeman Accused of Assaulting Quadriplegic
by Gary Jahrig, The Missoulian
A University of Montana police officer was charged with rape Friday following his arrest a day earlier for allegedly sexually assaulting a quadriplegic woman last month in her East Missoula home.
Tyrone Leo Baird, 34, was charged in Missoula Justice Court with one count of felony sexual intercourse without consent. Baird, who has been on the UM police force since April 2001, was arrested Thursday and taken to the Missoula County Detention Center.
Baird posted $25,000 bail and was released from custody. He appeared in Justice Court on Friday afternoon before Justice of the Peace Karen Orzech with his attorney, Anthony Silvestri. Orzech continued Baird's bail at $25,000, but ordered him to be screened for pretrial supervision to determine if the bail amount was appropriate.
Silvestri told Orzech that if anything, his client's bail should be reduced because he is a law enforcement officer and is a member of the Army National Guard.
Orzech declined to do so, but did issue a stern warning to Baird to not have any contact with the alleged victim or witnesses in the case.
"If there is any contact with the victim and this court finds out about it, you will be in the Missoula County Detention Center with 10 times the bail," Orzech told Baird.
Lt. Jim Lemcke, of the UM Office of Public Safety, said Baird was suspended Thursday from his job with pay pending the outcome of the criminal case. Lemcke said since the alleged rape did not take place on campus, the investigation is being handled by the Missoula County Sheriff's Office.
According to court documents filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Kirsten LaCroix, a woman notified 9-1-1 on Wednesday that she had been raped by Baird in her home in April. She told investigating officers that she did not report the rape immediately because she feared retribution from Baird or his wife.
The woman, who suffers from a nervous system disease that renders her unable to walk and severely limits the use of her arms, told Sheriff's Lt. Rich Maricelli that Baird was related to her boyfriend and had lived with her and her boyfriend from December until April 3 because of marital difficulties. She also told Maricelli that she had sold Baird a truck, which she had to repossess because he allegedly did not insure the vehicle and had stolen parts from it.
The woman said that during the time Baird lived with her, he allegedly made several sexual advances to both her and her home health care aide, court records state. She said that Baird allegedly posed nude in front of them and requested sex from them, which they both refused.
A couple of days prior to the alleged rape, the woman told Maricelli, Baird allegedly sent nude pictures of himself to her from UM via the Internet. He also allegedly sent her electronic messages with crude titles requesting sex. The woman said she responded by again saying she did not want to have sex with Baird.
On the day of the alleged attack in April, the woman said she was sleeping at about 7:30 a.m. when Baird entered her bedroom and began talking to her. After allegedly taking his sweat pants off and masturbating in front of her, court records state that Baird allegedly pulled off the woman's clothing and began rubbing her. The woman said Baird then allegedly forced her to have sexual intercourse against her will. Following the alleged assault, the woman said Baird immediately washed a towel and clothing.
Court documents state that the woman told Maricelli she waited a few weeks to report the alleged attack because she feared Baird and thought that he could use his position as a UM police officer to influence an investigation.
A friend of the woman's and her health care attendant both told investigators that they had witnessed Baird's sexual propositions in the past and heard the woman refuse the offers.
After the woman reported the alleged attack, she obtained a temporary order of protection against Baird and his wife. She then placed a monitored call to Baird from the Sheriff's Office, court records state. During the call she reportedly discussed the truck sale with Baird and then attempted to turn the conversation toward the alleged rape. At that time, investigators reported that Baird hung up the phone.
Maricelli said that after the phone call, Baird came to talk to him at the Sheriff's Office. When the alleged rape was brought up, Maricelli said Baird "immediately began to laugh," court records state.