Journalism professor remains absent, police report reveals incident details


Journalism professor Sean Baker admitted he had a problem with alcohol to Central Michigan University police after an intoxicated altercation on March 1, according to a report filed by campus police officers.

Immediately following the incident, the police report shows Baker was transported by CMUPD to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting place.

Following Baker's announcement of his voluntary leave of absence from classes this semester, Central Michigan Life requested the police report through the Freedom of Information Act. Details provided in the report described the situation that led to Baker seeking help.

Initially, Baker told his students by email that he would be absent for two weeks. Journalism department and College of Communications and Fine Arts officials are unsure how long Baker will be gone for.

Dean Salma Ghanem is reported to have had a meeting with university officials on the matter. The professors teaching Baker's courses in his absence do not expect him to return this semester, despite having no official information from administrators.

Journalism instructors believed a decision would be made Thursday of last week and an announcement would be made at their meeting the following Friday. Journalism professors said the meeting offered no new information.

Calls to Baker to confirm his status with the department and his return date were not returned.

According to the officer's narrative portion of the police report, the intoxicated altercation between Baker and former journalism department chairwoman Maria Marron also resulted in one allegation of an assault perpetrated by Marron, in addition to an assumed second assault perpetrated by Baker based video evidence reviewed by campus police.

Baker later recanted the allegation and was not officially logged with police. Finding no evidence of his claims, officers noted that filing a false report could result in criminal charges.

Baker refused to follow through with writing an official account of the incident and did not file a formal complaint.

In Officer Alan McArthur's narrative, Baker was seen swatting at Marron through the open door of the Moore Hall elevator as she captured video of the intoxicated Baker with her cell phone.

McArthur wrote that the evidence could not conclude whether Baker had intentionally swung on Marron to cause bodily harm or whether he was trying to knock the recording device – her cell phone – out of her hands.

Marron filed for a personal protection order against Baker on March 4 with the Isabella County Circuit Court, citing a fear that Baker might act out violently against her. Marron's request was denied by Circuit Court Judge Eric Janes for a lack of evidence to the claim.

The report also details multiple visits to Moore Hall during the hours of approximately 3 p.m. until a final visit at 4:46 p.m. On the day of the incident, the journalism department was hosting a recruitment conference for high school students.

As reported in an earlier article published in CM Life, the incident between Baker and Marron resulted from a string of email conversations on March 1 detailing plans to promote journalism professor Lori Brost to a lead position on a department-wide grant project.

Baker was upset about the appointment, and later called Marron's objectivity and competency into question.

Marron was advised by officers to not engage or provoke Baker, to bring it up to Ghanem, and that they would be on their way. Upon arrival, officers encountered an undisclosed third party, who told officers that Baker had a long history of being observed as intoxicated at work, and that members of the department have repeatedly complained to Ghanem about Baker's behavior.

According to video evidence, Marron engaged Baker and tried to record his staggering movements multiple times before making her initial call to make a complaint.

At 4:39 p.m., Baker made a call into CMUPD about Marron's behavior. During this call, Baker did not want to disclose his location, and inquired, "Is it OK that I'm drunk?"

Officer Christopher Pryor was dispatched to Moore as McArthur reviewed video evidence. McArthur's surveillance confirmed when Baker entered the elevator at 4:23 p.m., Marron was seen pushing the button on the elevator as to keep the door open, presumably so she could capture more footage.

Marron had her cell phone in her hand and was recording at this time. MacArthur concluded that despite being followed by Marron, Baker's claim of an assault was unfounded.

After officers told Baker he could be brought up on criminal charges for filing a false report, he remained silent for a moment, and agreed to not file a complaint.


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