Former San Bernardino Middle School Teacher Indicted on New Charges, Arraigned Today
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 02, 2012|
RIVERSIDE, CA—A former San Bernardino middle school teacher who was arrested last month for exotchanging sexually explicit images with a 13-year-old victim has been indicted by a federal grand jury and was arraigned today, announced Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; and André Birotte, Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles.
Eugene Ballantyne, 29, of Running Springs, California, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment this morning in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, California.
A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment on March 23 that charges Ballantyne with new allegations including the sexual exploitation of a minor and producing child pornography by enticing a minor to engage in and photograph sexually explicit conduct. The indictment also charges Ballantyne with receipt and possession of child pornography.
To date, investigators have identified four minor victims with whom Ballantyne had illegal contact. According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court on March 9, the investigation began when detectives with the South Brunswick Police Department in New Jersey were contacted by a 13-year-old victim’s parent who discovered sexually explicit communication between the victim and Ballantyne. Detectives continued to investigate and contacted the FBI when their investigation revealed that the suspect, later identified as Ballantyne, was located in California.
Ballantyne allegedly sent nude photographs of himself to the victim in New Jersey after meeting her in an Internet chat room using a false name of John Baldwin. The complaint alleges that Ballantyne persuaded the victim to engage in sexual activity while they conversed. Ballantyne further persuaded the victim to photograph the sexual activity and send the images to him electronically.
During a federal search warrant that occurred on March 1, Ballantyne admitted to agents that he had been communicating with the minor in New Jersey, as well as two additional minors he met online, one with whom he engaged in sex after traveling 180 miles to her location. Investigators have since identified two additional minors with whom Ballantyne corresponded. A newly identified victim advised the FBI that Ballantyne repeatedly requested nude photographs of her and led her to believe he was a 15-year-old boy using the false name of John Swanson.
Anyone with information about this case, or the unreported victimization of minors, is urged to contact the FBI at (888) 226-8443.
The production charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison. If convicted of all the charges, Ballantyne faces a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison. Ballantyne remains in federal custody awaiting trial. A trial date has been set for May 1, 2012 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
This is a continuing investigation by the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office; detectives with the South Brunswick, New Jersey Police Department; and the FBI’s New Jersey Cybercrimes Task Force. The San Bernardino County Unified School District is cooperating with the investigation.
Ballantyne will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.