Severn Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison for Coercion and Enticement of a Minor to Engage in Illegal Sexual Activity
Baltimore, Maryland – John W. Balch, age 76, of Jacksonville, Florida, pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and admitted to the sexual exploitation of six minor victims, including prepubescent minors. Today, co-defendant Jane Ellen Campbell, age 35, of Hagerstown, Maryland pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography, related to one of the victims.
The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore; Colonel Paul Joey Kifer, Chief of the Hagerstown Police Department; Commissioner Richard Worley of the Baltimore Police Department; and Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith, III.
According to his guilty plea, between 2017 and 2022, Balch sexually exploited six minors between the ages of 3 and 15 years old. Balch paid the victims’ mothers to produce images and videos of the victims engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The exploitation also included paying the victims’ mothers to perform sex acts on their prepubescent children, record the abuse, and send the files to Balch. Balch also admitted that he paid one of the mothers to transport her 15-year-old daughter to engage in sex acts with Balch in a hotel room.
As detailed in Campbell’s plea agreement, Campbell and Balch met in approximately 2007. In recent years, Campbell drove various women to have commercial sex with Balch in hotels when Balch traveled to Maryland from his home in Florida. In 2017, Balch asked Campbell multiple times to produce naked images of Minor Victim 1, who was nine years old at the time. Campbell admitted that she sent Balch sexually explicit images of Minor Victim 1 on three occasions between January and March of 2017. Beginning in 2021, Balch initiated conversations directly with Minor Victim 1. According to Campbell’s plea agreement, Balch paid Campbell $3,245, between November 23, 2020, and August 5, 2022.
As detailed in their plea agreements, upon their release from prison the defendants will be required to register as sex offenders in the places where they reside, where they are employees, and where they are students, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”).
Balch faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years for each count of sexual exploitation of a child Campbell faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for distributing visual depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has scheduled sentencing for Balch on January 26, 2024, at 10:00 a.m. and for Campbell on January 23, 2024, at 11:30 a.m.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the “Resources” tab on the left of the page.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the HSI, the Hagerstown Police Department, the Baltimore Police Department, and the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office for their work in this investigation. U.S. Attorney Barron also recognized the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern District of West Virginia and the Middle District of Florida, and the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office for their assistance in the Balch case. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Budlow and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Joyce King, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md/project-safe-childhood and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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