Friday Harbor man pleads guilty to one count of child molestation

By Cali Bagby


(Warning: This story contains disturbing details about the alleged sexual assault against a child.)

John William Barker Jr., 25, of Friday Harbor, plead guilty to one count of child molestation in the second degree on Jan. 6. His sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 17 at 1:30 p.m.

The plea comes in the wake of a court hearing on Dec. 19, 2016 where Detective Stephen Parker testified. The hearing was held to prove the admissibility of the confession Barker gave Parker, last spring, to be used in the Jan. 9 trial.

The judge ruled the confession would not be admissible in court, so the rape charges were dropped and the molestation charges were filed. The defense and prosecutor will ask that court to impose 84 months as an exceptional sentence, said San Juan County Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord.

“The plea agreement does a good job of protecting the community through time served, and also during the time after his sentence when he will be registered as a sex offender,” said Gaylord.

Parker resigned from his position and moved off island prior to the hearing as he was being investigated for inappropriate conduct in a separate case. (See this story in full at Watch the Journal for more reports on the Detective Parker conduct investigation.

Case details

On May 23, 2016 a 20-month-old child was brought by his mother to Peace Island Medical Center’s emergency room in Friday Harbor. Due to the severity of his injuries, the child was referred to a higher level of care. At Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center a doctor made a statement to a San Juan County Sheriff’s detective that the child likely suffered from physical and sexual abuse.

The mother of the toddler told the detective that Barker was babysitting her son on May 21. When she returned home from work she found a bruise on the baby’s abdomen. According to the detective’s report, the next day she noticed a bruise forming over the child’s eye. She told the detective that Barker claimed to not know the origin of the injuries. The following morning, when the mother changed her son’s diapers, she told the detective that she found bruises on his neck, back, thighs, stomach and signs of a sexual assault. The detective took photographs that corresponded with her report. He also found scratches on the victim.

On May 25, Barker, while being interviewed by the detective, stated that while babysitting he had become “increasingly agitated and frustrated” that the child was not listening. He described yelling, spanking the child and grabbing him by the head and “pushing him back and forth.” Barker told the detective that the other bruises were caused by pushing and grabbing the victim. According to the officer’s probable cause report, Barker eventually made a statement that day that he committed sexual acts against the toddler, but denied engaging in sexual intercourse.

Barker’s criminal history includes contempt of court in 2009 in Sterling, Colorado.

Journal reporter Hayley Day contributed to this article.