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Child Exploitation

British actor, talent judge pleads guilty to persuading children to produce pornography

ORLANDO, Fla. – A British citizen and resident of Celebration pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of production of child pornography using the Internet. The guilty plea resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the Orange County Sheriff's Office, the Osceola County Sheriff's Office and the former Child Predator Cybercrime Unite of the Florida Attorney General's Office.

According to court documents, from about November 2008 through August 2010, John David Baker, 29, used computers and interactive computer services to engage in online conversations with several minor children over the Internet. During this period, Baker worked as an actor and helped train and audition adults and children who were attempting to pursue careers in the entertainment business. Baker also served as a talent judge for a talent competition in Florida. In this role, Baker met minor children who were auditioning to work in the art and film industries.

Law enforcement interviewed Baker after they received a complaint from a concerned parent of a child Baker had contacted online. Baker acknowledged that he had been confronted by the director of the talent competition about his inappropriate online contact with minors. He admitted to chatting with other minors from the talent competition online. Baker also admitted that many of his chats were sexually oriented. During the chats, he sent or traded sexually oriented photos of himself or others. He stated that through his work in the talent industry he received photos of individuals, some through his request and some not solicited by him. According to Baker, he solicited photos from at least 10 children in the talent competition.

By establishing a fictitious online persona, Baker persuaded minors to send him images and videos of themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct via the Internet. Baker then sent the pornographic images to others. During a forensic analysis of Baker's computer, law enforcement located several images and a video of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Baker faces between 15 and 30 years in prison for each count and a potential life term of supervised release. Baker has been held in the custody since his arrest Sept.7. A sentencing hearing has not yet been set.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.