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Former firefighter sentenced to prison
Ex-firefighter sentenced to prison term


Date published: 12/13/2011

BY KEITH EPPS

A former volunteer firefighter in Spotsylvania County who had sex with a 13-year-old girl in a fire department vehicle has been ordered to serve four years in prison.

Justin Neil Baber, 23, was convicted of carnal knowledge and electronic solicitation yesterday in Spotsylvania Circuit Court.

As part of a plea agreement, he was sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison with all but four years suspended.

According to the evidence presented by prosecutor Crystal Montague-Holland, Baber was on duty with the Chancellor Volunteer Fire Department on May 4 when the girl accidentally sent him a text message. The girl was trying to text one of her friends.

During the ensuing messaging, Baber convinced the girl to sneak out of her home late that night. The girl left through a basement door and met Baber at the intersection of Bridgewood Court and Peachtree Drive.

Baber was driving a Ford Crown Victoria that belongs to the fire department, police said. He got into the back seat with the girl and they had sex, Montague-Holland said.

The incident came to light May 13 after the girl told a counselor that she'd had sex with a 23-year-old man. The counselor notified the girl's stepmother, and the Sheriff's Office was called.

Sgt. Sam Cielakie and Detective Ed Lunsford traced the cellphone number to Baber and had the girl send him text messages while they looked on.

The girl wrote about the incident in the fire department car earlier that month and asked Baber if he wanted to do it again. Baber replied that he was going to be at the firehouse all night, but said he would like to have sex with the girl--"just not in a car again."

Lunsford, Cielakie and another deputy later went to the firehouse early May 14 to speak with Baber. He admitted being contacted by the girl, but denied having sex with her or driving a fire department vehicle.

When the officers showed Baber the girl's cellphone and informed him they were aware of the recent text messages, Baber said the girl told him she was 18 and he went to see her in his own pickup truck. He said they did not have sex because she "freaked out" when a neighbor saw her.

After the officers informed Baber that they didn't believe that story either, he then said they attempted to have sex but it wasn't working because of the "positioning of the vehicle" and because the girl needed to get back home.

Regarding the text-message exchange he'd had with the girl a few hours earlier, court records state, Baber said he wouldn't have had sex with the girl because he knew she was underage.

Baber, who was dismissed from the fire department after the allegations came to light, will have to register as a sex offender and will not be allowed to have contact with anyone younger than 16 "unless deemed appropriate by probation and parole."

Baber was represented by attorney Ghislaine Storr-Burks.

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404
Email: kepps@freelancestar.com