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Press Release

Florida Man Sentenced to 60 Years in Federal Prison for Charges Related to the Sexual Exploitation of Minors

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Hagerstown Co-Defendant Sentenced to More Than 17 Years in Federal Prison for Distribution of Child Pornography Related to One of the Victims

Baltimore, Maryland – Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar today sentenced John W. Balch, age 76, of Jacksonville, Florida, to 60 years in federal prison, followed by lifetime supervised release, for two counts of sexual exploitation of a child.  Balch had previously pleaded guilty to those charges and further admitted to the sexual exploitation of six minor victims, including prepubescent minors.  On January 23, 2024, Chief Judge Bredar sentenced co-defendant Jane Ellen Campbell, age 35, of Hagerstown, Maryland, to 210 months in federal prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release, for distribution of child pornography, related to one of the victims.  Chief Judge Bredar also ordered that, 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”).

The sentences 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; Chief Paul Joey Kifer, Chief of the Hagerstown Police Department; and Frederick County State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith, III.

According to Balch’s guilty plea and other court documents, 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 three sexually explicit images of Minor Victim 1 in July 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.  

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, 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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Contact

Marcia Lubin
(410) 209-4854

Updated January 26, 2024

Topic
Project Safe Childhood