AUSTIN, Texas — Kelly Gall would like when you did not know her title.
However the hearth specialist with the Austin Fireplace Division is now entering into the highlight for her first interview.
Gall’s story began July of 2017 at Fireplace Station One on Fifth Avenue in Downtown Austin. That is the place she labored with James Baker, her supervisor and good buddy of 10 years.
That is additionally when she simply informed him she was briefly leaving Station One for a couple of months to function a crew chief on the Fireplace Academy.
“Ever since he heard I wished to do it, he was very disgusted and offended that I’d be leaving the station,” Gall stated. “I attempted to say it is solely non permanent.”
Throughout that point, he despatched quite a lot of unusual messages: An image of himself alone on a sofa with the caption, “Listed here are my shifts now,” and one other that learn, “Miss you a lot.”
To appease her buddy, Gall volunteered to work at Fireplace Station One on Labor Day — the identical day Baker recorded her.
Gall stated this gave him loads of time to plan the crime.
“He had time to go get the spy cam, he had over three months to decide on between doing one thing proper or mistaken, and he opted for the mistaken,” Gall defined.
Gall remembered Sept. three properly. She had simply completed a name and returned to the station when she noticed Baker stroll out of the ladies’s locker room with cleaning soap in his hand.
“And I used to be puzzled and I stated, ‘What are you doing with that cleaning soap,'” she stated. “It was department-issued cleaning soap, and most of the people carry cleaning soap from dwelling, and he stated, ‘I like to make use of it to scrub my ft, it makes a extremely good lather,’ and it was simply actually odd and awkward dialog.”
She went in and took a bathe. When she got here out, she observed one thing within the cabinets.
“And I used to be drying myself off, and we had fairly a little bit of stuff on the cabinets within the toilet, and I simply occur to recollect trying up on the Christmas lights and bear in mind seeing one thing blue and I believed, ‘Wow, what’s that? We use clear Christmas lights, what’s that blue gentle?'” Gall stated.
A Google search confirmed Gall’s worst worry. It was a spy digicam.
As she sat and processed what she simply realized, Baker walked up and requested to speak.
“At the moment, admitted that the digicam was his, apologized, ‘I am so sorry, I care about you a lot, I am sorry, I am sorry.’ I did not know what to say, so I simply let him discuss,” she defined.
“I am considering yuck, I am considering creepy, I am considering gross, I am considering that I appeared to you want a member of the family and also you’re doing this to me … He informed me he’ll switch stations, he informed me that he’ll retire,” she stated.
Baker informed her as a lot in a sequence of textual content messages the following day.
First, he requested, “I am in hassle now?” Additionally telling her that “APD got here to the station.” Pleading with Gall to “please let him know.” Writing “If I do not hear from you, then I do know I am finished!!” The final message reads, “I simply informed [my wife] … I do know you’ll be able to’t speak about it to me. I can be retiring tomorrow.”
“I’ve bought quite a lot of regrets. I am mad at myself as a result of I did not see this coming,” stated Gall.
However Gall stated what’s even worse than the crime is that the felony justice system failed her.
“I believe coping with the felony facet was nearly worse than coping with the incident itself … We’re so confused,” she stated. “You have bought the video recording of him committing the crime, he is confessing to the crime, I by no means understood, why would not we take it to trial?”
As a substitute, Baker reached an agreement with prosecutors. He pleaded responsible in trade for 5 years deferred probation. No jail time. He additionally retired from the Austin Fireplace Division.
And that simply does not sit properly with Lonnie Gall, Kelly’s husband.
“What occurs in one other case the place the dangerous man is not loopy sufficient to video himself on digicam or as a substitute of confessing, denies it,” he stated. “If you cannot get a conviction with that a lot proof, then what occurs with the following case?”
We requested her if the town failed in 2013.
“It completely failed,” she replied. “Little doubt about it.”
Bob Nicks is the president of the Austin Fireplace Affiliation. He stated this might have by no means occurred to Gall if the Metropolis would have taken motion in 2013, when a number of firefighters accused Baker of groping feminine sufferers.
“There was not an actual investigation finished,” stated Nicks. “There was a scientific investigation to see if he knew the right way to do assessments accurately however they by no means took the investigation significantly. Really, some reported to me that they felt retaliated towards after they tried to press it additional and nothing was finished about it.”
In November, Gall filed a civil suit towards the Metropolis of Austin.
She stated AFD higher-ups ought to have identified higher and will have finished extra to forestall Baker’s sexual harassment towards her, which is why the 16-year veteran hopes her actions now will assist others sooner or later.
“If this horrible incident that occurred can carry some good, I am all for that,” she stated.
We requested the Travis County District Legal professional’s Workplace for an on-camera interview. They declined and as a substitute despatched a press release. It reads partially, “by getting into into this settlement as a substitute of risking trial, the District Legal professional gained the benefit of the assured discovering of guilt, the imposition of the utmost quantity of neighborhood supervision, and the give up of his licensing. Mr. Baker will not be a firefighter or EMT.”