FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS MAN SENTENCED FOR PRODUCTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
A Fairview Heights man was sentenced in federal court in East St. Louis on July 22, 2011, to thirty years in prison for Production of Child Pornography, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today.
Steven D. Ballinger, 31, Fairview Heights, Ill.-, was sentenced to 360 months’ imprisonment, 15 years’ supervised release, fined $1,250, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment. Ballinger has been detained since his arraignment on June 9, 2010.
“In destroying the innocence of this victim, Mr. Ballinger destroyed his own future as well. This was a tough, but fair, sentence for a crime which obliterated the childhood of a minor victim, committed by an apparent serial abuser of women and children. Harsh punishment is demanded for persons, like Mr. Ballinger, who victimize and scar our children.” remarked United States Attorney Wigginton.
Evidence brought out a court proceedings in this case revealed that the violation occurred on July 7, 2006, when Ballinger, who was 26 at the time, videotaped himself having sexual intercourse with T.R., a 13 year old child. The victim was found at Ballinger’s parents’ home after the victim’s mother contacted the police and asked them to remove her daughter from the home. Evidence introduced at sentencing established that the sexual relationship between the two began in June, 2006, when the victim was only 12 years old. The evidence also established that, despite Ballinger being warned by the victim’s family that the victim was only 12, Ballinger continued to have sexual relations with the victim, culminating in the videotaping of them having sex on the victim’s 13th birthday. Additional evidence introduced at sentencing, including Ballinger’s own admissions, established that Ballinger gave the victim cocaine and alcohol during their relationship, resulting in the minor having to enter a rehabilitation center for her cocaine addiction after being removed from Ballinger’s home.
In addition, there was evidence introduced at sentencing that Ballinger had a history of committing sexual assaults dating back to 1998, none of which had been prosecuted for various reasons. In November, 1998, an 18 year old Ballinger was accused of raping a 14 year old female, and in September, 2004, a 24 year old Ballinger was accused of sexually assaulting a 17 year old female. In addition, evidence was introduced that in March, 1998, a 17 year old Ballinger physically assaulted a 15 year old female who refused his romantic advances on school grounds. The female suffered bruising to her rib cage as a result of the attack. Ballinger was subsequently charged. He later pled guilty to the offense of battery, related to this attack. Finally, there was evidence introduced at sentencing that various individuals who were familiar with Ballinger agreed that he was a danger to society and at a high risk to re-offend in the future.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was investigated by the Fairview Heights Police Department, the Collinsville Police Department, and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.