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February 21, 2024Baltimore, MD, United StatesChild Exploitation

Florida man sentenced to 60 years for sexually exploiting a child following HSI Frederick investigation

Maryland co-defendant sentenced to more than 17 years for distribution of child sexual abuse material

BALTIMORE — An investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Frederick and the Hagerstown Police Department resulted in a 60-year prison sentence with a lifetime of supervised release for a Florida man guilty of two counts of sexual exploitation of a child. John W. Balch, 76, of Jacksonville, received the six-decade sentence Jan. 26 at the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Balch’s co-defendant, Jane Ellen Campbell, 35, of Hagerstown, received a 210-month federal prison sentence with 15 years of supervised release for distributing child sexual abuse material as a relative of one of the victims.

“Mr. Balch and Ms. Campbell represent the most detestable segment of society,” said HSI Baltimore Special Agent in Charge James C. Harris. “Arresting these individuals is not just about justice; it’s also about upholding the value of every child’s innocence and trying to provide a safer world for our children. HSI Baltimore will continue to work vigorously with our law enforcement partners to investigate and apprehend anyone engaged in such repulsive and predatory behavior.”

Balch previously pleaded guilty to his charges and admitted to the sexual exploitation of six child victims, including prepubescent children.

Upon their release from prison, in accordance with the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, both conspirators must register as sex offenders in the places where they live, work or study.

According to the investigation, between 2017 and 2022, Balch sexually exploited six children between the ages of three and 15. He paid their mothers to produce images and videos of the victims engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including paying the victims’ mothers to perform sex acts on their prepubescent children, record the abuse, and send him the files. Balch also paid one woman to transport her 15-year-old daughter to a hotel room to engage in sex acts with him.

According to the investigation, Campbell drove various women to have commercial sex with Balch in hotels when he traveled to Maryland from his home in Florida. In 2017, Balch asked Campbell multiple times to produce naked images of a 9-year-old child. She sent him three sexually explicit images of the child in July 2017. Beginning in 2021, Balch initiated conversations directly with the minor victim. According to Campbell’s plea agreement, Balch paid Campbell $3,245 between Nov. 23, 2020, and Aug. 5, 2022.

This case was investigated by HSI Frederick and the Hagerstown Police Department with significant assistance from FBI Pittsburgh. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland and the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case with significant assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the of Middle District of Florida.

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 U.S. 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.

HSI encourages members of the public to report suspicious activity by calling the HSI Tip Line at 877-4-HSI-TIP. The tip line is staffed 24 hours a day.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees and consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to increase public safety in your community on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @HSIBaltimore.

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