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Press Release

Jury finds Maryland man guilty of sexually exploiting Ohio teens

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal jury has convicted a 72-year-old Annapolis, Maryland, man of numerous child exploitation and pornography crimes.

The jury announced their guilty verdicts on all eight counts yesterday after deliberating for approximately 45 minutes following the trial against Bernhard Jakits. The trial began on May 22 before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr.

According to court documents and trial testimony, in January 2019, the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office received information relating to two potential exploitation victims. Forensic examination of cell phones and other electronic devices revealed that Jakits had communicated via text message with two teenaged victims and coerced them to send nude photographs of themselves.

In December 2018 and January 2019, Jakits sexually exploited a 15-year-old female to create child pornography. Jakits also attempted to exploit a 13-year-old female in January 2019.

The defendant coerced the two teenaged victims and used the chat app TextNow to obtain pornographic images of the minors in exchange for money. Jakits sought to video chat with the victims and offered them thousands of dollars, but the minors declined.

Jakits met the minor victims based on his relationship with their mother, during which he paid the mother to engage in sex acts via video chats.

Jakits owned homes in both Maryland and California. He traveled extensively around the world on his yacht after running and selling a yacht brokerage business.

The defendant was indicted in a superseding indictment by a federal grand jury in January 2023.

Jakits faces a minimum prison sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison. Congress sets the minimum and maximum statutory sentences. Sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the Court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division; and Belmont County Sheriff David M. Lucas announced the verdict. Senior Litigation Counsel Heather A. Hill and Assistant United States Attorneys Emily K. Czerniejewski and Kevin A. Koller are representing the United States in this case.

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Updated May 31, 2023

Project Safe Childhood