Former AFD Lt. accused of recording women's shower facilities faced previous complaints

James William Baker II is charged with invasive visual recording, a state jail felony. (Photo courtesy: Austin Fire Department)

Some of the female firefighters who used the shower facilities at Austin Fire Station 1 could file a lawsuit soon -- after Lieutenant James Baker II was accused of secretly videotaping. That's because there were complaints about his behavior four years ago.

Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks was the union rep for fire Lieutenant Baker in March 2013, when Baker was accused of behaving inappropriately with female patients. "What was described in the letters was that he would pass up more hurt people on the scene to go to younger females," Nicks said.

Other behavior described by firefighters included Baker running his hands under the shirts of female patients. "There's very few reasons you'd ever go under anybody's shirt on a medical call," said Nicks.

The union president gave CBS Austin copies of the complaints written in 2013. One described Baker "bypassing an elderly lady that was bleeding to assess a younger female who did not appear to be hurt." Another said "Lieutenant Baker checking the female driver's chest and back by putting his hand up from the bottom and down the top of her shirt."

But Nicks said the fire department investigated it as a medical matter, not as misconduct and disregarded what other firefighters were saying. "They came forward courageously and basically told about what their peer was doing that was inappropriate," he said.

The fire department said in a statement that the Office of the Medical Director reviewed the complaints, but did not find any violations in patient care.

"If they would have done their job in 2013 and properly looked into this evidence and did an investigation that what happened in 2017 where illegal filming of females in their shower area occurred, would not have happened," Nicks said. Now, in light of the invasive photography charge, the union has turned its back on Baker.

"We've asked him to give up his membership and we passed a motion recently accepting his resignation and voting to never allow him membership again," said Nicks.

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