VERNONIA, Oregon -- A former Vernonia police officer was arrested on felony child sex abuse charges after he sent a sexually explicit message to a 13-year-old girl, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said.
Gene Baska, 62, of Vernonia, was arrested Wednesday for luring a minor and attempt to commit sex abuse, both felony charges.
The investigation started when a 13-year-old said she received a sexually explicit message from Baska, authorities said.
Deputies seized electronic equipment from his home when serving a search warrant for Baska’s digital files, call records and text messages.
|Former policeman Gene Baska|
Baska was a police officer for the City of Vernonia from 1990 to 2003, when he retired as a sergeant.
“It kinda took me for a real surprise when I found out,” said Mario Leonetti, who was mayor of Vernonia from 2000 to 2002. Before that he served as a council member for nearly two decades.
“I thought things were going on the upward scale for him. He had some mischievous ways and I thought that those had gone beyond him,” said Leonetti. “I don't really wanna pinpoint with this type of thing going on but there have been people that have made comments about him looking at, let's say, unmarried girls.”
Mischievous ways? Let's hope the former mayor is talking about something other than child sex abuse.
KATU’s On Your Side Investigators found out Baska has no criminal record. As an officer, Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training says he was never cited or even put under investigation.
Baska posted bail Wednesday evening, but has a no-contact order with the victim and her family.
KATU Investigator Joe Douglass knocked on Baska’s door Thursday afternoon and a woman inside told him to go away. Douglass then left a note with contact information. So far Baska has not responded.
Deputies said there is a chance that other victims are out there. If you have any information relating to this case, call (503) 366-4698.