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Child Exploitation

Maryland woman sentenced to prison for conspiring to produce child pornography

BALTIMORE — A 38-year-old Parkville, Md., woman was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release for conspiring to produce child pornography.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the FBI and the Baltimore County Police Department.

Margaret Ellen Jones was sentenced by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar, who ordered that upon her release from prison, Jones must register as a sex offender in the place where she resides, where she is an employee and where she is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Prior to March 2010, Jones met co-conspirator John Blaes, 50, also of Parkville, online and became involved in a sexual relationship involving bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM). Jones subsequently moved into Blaes' Parkville home. Blaes used the Internet to recruit other women and girls into the BDSM lifestyle.

On July 5, 2011, Blaes solicited a 15-year-old girl to engage in sexual conduct with him and Jones. Blaes and Jones, knowing that the victim was a vulnerable minor, sent pornographic pictures of themselves to the victim by computer.

On July 22, 2011, Blaes and Jones traveled to the victim's North Carolina home to bring her to live with them in Parkville. After picking the victim up, Blaes and Jones sexually abused the victim in the back of their vehicle. The next day, Blaes and Jones rented a hotel room in North Carolina to engage in sexually explicit conduct with the victim. Blaes and Jones used a camera to document the sexual abuse of the victim, including sadistic and masochistic conduct in the van and the hotel.

From July 22 to Nov. 20, 2011, Blaes and Jones engaged in sex with the victim many times a week. Blaes also cut the victim and held lemons to her injuries. The victim was instructed to call Blaes "master" or "sir," and to call Jones "mistress." Blaes and Jones referred to the victim as their "slave." Blaes and Jones instructed the victim to keep the sexual conduct and her age a secret and the victim was kept in their residence or in their control at all times and was not enrolled in school.

Blaes and Jones used a camera and cell phones to document their sexual abuse of the victim and to photograph her in sexually explicit poses. Blaes distributed the sexually explicit images of the victim online to recruit other individuals into his BDSM lifestyle with Jones.

John Andrew Blaes previously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and to transporting a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct. Blaes was sentenced to 27 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release.

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.

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 Attorneys' 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.usdoj.gov/psc.For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachel M. Yasser and Judson T. Mihok.