Friday, February 09, 2001

Mich. man to face rape charge in Monroe

By Earnest Winston and Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — A Michigan firefighter accused of sexually assaulting a Monroe woman he met over the Internet is expected to return to Butler County today to face a rape charge.

        Billy Dean Baumer, 33, of Big Rapids, Mich., waived extradition in Kent County, Mich., Wednesday — a day after he surrendered to authorities.

        He also is a former deputy sheriff in Alachua County, Fla.

        Mr. Baumer admitted during an interview with Monroe detectives last week that he had sex with the 47-year-old woman, but claimed the encounter was consensual, Monroe Police Chief Ernest Howard said.

        The woman invited Mr. Baumer, who is married, into her home last month after establishing a relationship with him in a chat room and via phone, police said.

        When he arrived, he reportedly was congenial and talked with other people at the residence. When the others left, the woman said, he attacked her and then fled, according to police.

        Monroe Detective Michael Staples said the woman now avoids chat rooms. She is distraught and sleeping with all of her lights on, he said.

        Annette Guilfoyle, a spokeswoman for the city of Grand Rapids, Mich., said Thursday that Mr. Baumer decided to use vacation time during his absence from the city's fire department, where he has worked for two years. She said Fire Chief Michael Burton is investigating “whether or not there are any issues related to this case that may impact Mr. Baumer's employment.”

        Chief Howard said police confirmed that Mr. Baumer was accused years ago of using “slight force” against a woman to have sex in the Gainesville, Fla., area.

        The charge was eventually dropped when a female witness never showed up for court hearings, Chief Howard said.

        Mr. Baumer eventually lost his job as a deputy sheriff following the incident.


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