Texas city to pay $85K to female firefighter whose supervisor hid camera in dressing room

Firefighter Kelly Gall said the city of Austin failed to act against now former Lt. James Baker after prior reports of inappropriate behavior

By Leila Merrill

AUSTIN, Texas — The city of Austin will pay $85,000 to a female firefighter whose supervisor hid a camera in a department dressing room, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The city council authorized the payment on Thursday. It ends a lawsuit by Firefighter Kelly Gall against the city over the 2017 incident.

Lt. James Baker pleaded guilty in 2018 to filming Gall. The plea deal let Baker avoid prison under a deferred adjudication, and he surrendered his credentials to be a firefighter or EMT. 

Gall said the city failed to act against him after previous reports of inappropriate behavior.

A firefighters union had said then-Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore sought too light a sentence against Baker because it did not require jail time in a felony plea agreement.

The settlement includes the payment to Gall and a promise by the city to adopt policy changes.

In 2013, colleagues filed complaints about how Baker performed medical checks on female patients. “Three firefighters said Baker put his hand down women's shirts for no apparent medical reason, including one after a minor traffic collision,” the newspaper reported. The complaints went to the city’s medical director at the time, Dr. Paul Hinchey, who said that Baker did not violate any standard of medical care.

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