Christopher Baker, a convicted
serial rapist who was sentenced to 10 back-to-back life terms,
might have been caught sooner if police had investigated other
attacks more aggressively, a former Atlanta police official
Baker, 37, tried to talk his way out of a hefty sentence by
professing his innocence and blaming the six victims, whom he
described as vindictive prostitutes he had ripped off but not
Christopher Baker was sentenced to 10 back-to-back life
sentences plus 119 years after being convicted on 18 charges.
The sentencing judge, however, imposed the maximum penalty
allowed, tacking 119 years onto the life sentences.
"That's every day I could find," Fulton County Superior Court
Judge Alford Dempsey Jr. said Friday when passing the sentence.
A jury convicted Baker of 18 counts, including rape, kidnapping,
aggravated sodomy and robbery by force, for incidents from May
1998 through October 2002.
Prosecutor Gayle Abramson said DNA evidence also links Baker, a
four-time convicted felon, to a dozen rapes in Fulton and DeKalb
counties, including the six in Atlanta's west side.
"There is no way he'll ever see the light of day again, and
that's what we wanted," Abramson said.
All six of the victims testified last fall, some of them through
tears, about how Baker raped them. He left some of them with
scrapes, a jaw contusion or black eyes. He also kneed a pregnant
woman in the abdomen, Abramson said.
Lou Arcangeli, a retired Atlanta police commander, came to
Baker's sentencing even though he didn't work on the case. He
said he believes it's possible Baker could have been stopped
sooner if police detectives had aggressively investigated all
reports of rape. "I'm sure they had a chance to catch him
earlier," he said. "It's justice delayed."
Lisa James, a former Atlanta police detective assigned to the
sex crimes unit, said she and other investigators suspected
Baker in some of the "really brutal" cases, but since the cases
were not investigated thoroughly, they could not be connected to
James left the department after unwittingly blowing the whistle
in 2001 on a secret file, dubbed the "name file," where some
investigators stored rape reports involving runaways, the
homeless, prostitutes and others who were hard to find or easy
to discredit. These rapes weren't thoroughly investigated or
included in the city's crime statistics.
Arcangeli, once a deputy chief under former police chief Beverly
Harvard, was demoted in 1998 after blowing the whistle on crime
underreporting he said was designed to polish the image of the
department and city in time for the 1996 Olympics.
Arcangeli again exposed underreporting in 2001, this time
involving sex crimes. He blamed several people, from detectives
to a deputy chief, for keeping the name file in 1999 and 2000
and possibly destroying evidence by tossing aside rape kits.
In Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington's first year in
office, he launched an internal probe into the name file and
promoted Arcangeli to zone commander in 2002.
The internal investigation, completed last year, put the blame
on nine people, including three supervisors.
For nearly a year, Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard's Public
Integrity Unit has been investigating whether police misconduct
rises to the level of criminal wrongdoing. "We're nearing a
conclusion," Howard said. Howard said he couldn't discuss
whether Baker was a suspect in rapes previously hidden in the
"I don't want to say anything that would keep me from
prosecuting someone who might have done something illegal,"
Howard said. "So that is why I am being careful in saying what
is in the name file."
Arcangeli credited Howard, the judge, and jury with holding
"This is awesome," Arcangeli said. "This shows the system can
work even when one part of it, the police department under Chief
The hearing, which lasted nearly three hours, brought sobs from
Baker's relatives and one of his victims, who ran from the
courtroom in tears as her credibility came under attack.
A couple of the victims said they had accepted a ride from
Baker, a stranger who seemed friendly and eager to help them on
their way home from MARTA or to a nearby store. One victim said
she thought she was headed on a first date with a nice guy. But
others were forced into Baker's sport utility vehicle after he
spotted them and brandished a gun.
Staff writer Tasgola Karla Bruner contributed to this report.