2012-03-22 / Front Page
Ex-teacher charged with sending explicit images to young S.B. teen
Eugene Ballantyne, of Calif., faces charges of child pornography
SOUTH BRUNSWICK — A former California middle school teacher was arrested March 13 for exchanging sexually explicit images with a South Brunswick girl, according to multiple law enforcement agencies investigating the case in California and New Jersey.
Eugene Ballantyne, 29, faces child pornography charges as the result of a crosscountry investigation into child exploitation. Steven Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Division, and Andre Birotte Jr., the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, made the announcement the day of Ballantyne’s arrest.
Police said the investigation began when a
South Brunswick parent observed sexually explicit images on her 13-year-old daughter’s cellphone. Upon her contact with South Brunswick police, Detective Ronald Seaman, who is also a member of the FBI’s New Jersey Cybercrimes Task Force, began the investigation and identified Ballantyne, of Running Springs, Calif., as the suspect.
South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka credited Seaman and the FBI for taking the suspected predator off the streets.
“This suspect put himself in a place of trust with young people to exploit them,” he said. “Our agency is committed to working with all law enforcement, anywhere to track these offenders down.”
Ballantyne, previously employed by the San Bernardino Unified School District, met the victim on an online chat site, where they exchanged contact information, and continued to correspond via Internet messaging services, police said.
Ballantyne allegedly used a false name of John Baldwin while communicating, sent nude photographs of himself to the victim and received partially nude, sexually suggestive photographs of the victim.
Police said communications occurred often during the latter part of January, and Ballantyne told the victim not to tell anyone about the relationship. The complaint details messages the suspect sent wherein he expresses his love for the victim and describes “how lucky” he was that the victim was “in his life.”
Ballantyne allegedly blocked his number on multiple occasions when he called and continually requested the victim delete his pictures, text messages and emails.
A federal search warrant was executed at Ballantyne’s residence on March 1 for evidence of child pornography. During the search, he admitted to agents that he had been communicating with the minor since January and received sexually explicit images from the victim as well as another female minor he met online approximately two years ago.
The complaint also alleges Ballantyne admitted to traveling 180 miles to have sex with a third minor victim whom he met in an online chatroom.
Based on evidence obtained during the search and further investigation, detectives and agents believe the suspect may have had access to other minors not yet identified and are distributing his photo to seek information as to whether additional victims exist.
Police said there is no evidence suggesting Ballantyne had illegal contact with children at the school where he was employed at this time. However, the investigation is continuing, and the San Bernardino Unified School District is cooperating.
Ballantyne faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. He will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Anyone with information about this case or the unreported victimization of minors is urged to contact the FBI at 888-226-8443.