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Child Exploitation

Maryland man pleads guilty to conspiracy to produce child pornography and transporting a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct

BALTIMORE – John Andrew Blaes, 49, of Parkville, Md., pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to produce child pornography and to transporting a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Baltimore County Police Department.

Blaes faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison for conspiracy to produce child pornography and a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison for transportation of a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct, followed by up to lifetime of supervised release. U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar has scheduled sentencing for Dec. 19 at 10:00 a.m.

As part of his plea agreement, Blaes must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

According to the plea agreement, at some time prior to March 2010, Blaes and a co-conspirator met online and became involved in a sexual relationship involving bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM), with Blaes as the "master." The co-conspirator subsequently moved into Blaes' Parkville home. During this time, including in July 2011, Blaes used the Internet to contact other women and minor females to recruit them into the BDSM lifestyle.

On July 5, 2011, Blaes contacted a minor female victim, who was 15-years-old at the time, and solicited her to engage in sexual conduct with him and his co-conspirator. Blaes and the co-conspirator knew that the victim was a vulnerable minor. As part of the solicitation process, both Blaes and the co-conspirator sent pornographic pictures of themselves to the victim using the computer.

On July 22, 2011, Blaes and the co-conspirator traveled from Maryland to the victim's North Carolina home to bring her to live with them in Parkville. After picking the victim up in North Carolina, Blaes and the co-conspirator sexually abused the victim in the back of their vehicle, including bondage with ropes, chains and clamps. The next day, Blaes and the co-conspirator rented a hotel room in North Carolina for the purpose of engaging in sexually explicit conduct with the victim. Blaes and the co-conspirator used a camera to document the sexual abuse of the victim in the van and the hotel. The images captured by Blaes and the co-conspirator include sadistic and masochistic conduct.

From approximately July 22, 2011 to Nov. 20, 2011, Blaes and the co-conspirator engaged in sex acts with the victim multiple times a week. Blaes also cut the victim and held lemons to her injuries. Blaes instructed the victim to call him "master" or "sir," and to call the co-conspirator "mistress." Blaes and the co-conspirator referred to the victim as their "slave." Blaes and the co-conspirator 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 the co-conspirator 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 for the purpose of recruiting other individuals into his BDSM lifestyle with the co-conspirator.

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-DHS-2ICE or its online tip form at http://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), 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, PSC 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 PSC, 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.