Former Rim High history teacher admits sex crimes www.privateofficer.com
Eugene Ballantyne, 29, of Running Springs, affixed his signature to a 23-page plea agreement on July 3, consenting to a long list of conditions that will include his registering as a sex offender in whatever state he may live or work.
This newspaper obtained a copy of that agreement on Tuesday.
Jerry Yang, the assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting Ballantyne, said the former teacher will be sentenced Oct. 29 by Los Angeles Federal Judge George King.
The agreement notes that though the maximum penalty for violating Section 2422(b) of Title 18 of the United States Code can include life imprisonment, lifetime supervised probation, a $250,000 fine, Yang will recommend that Ballantyne get the statutory minimum, which is 10 years in prison.
On the final page of the agreement, titled “Certification of Defendant,” Ballantyne acknowledges that “no one has threatened or forced me in any way to enter into this agreement,” adding that “I am pleading guilty because I am guilty of the charges and wish to take advantage of the promises set forth in this agreement, and not for any other reason.”
Under terms of the plea agreement, Ballantyne will be required to participate in psychological counseling or psychiatric treatment or a sex-offender treatment program and pay all or part of the costs.
NO CHILD PORN
The conditions of his probation, which will take effect after his prison term ends, will also include a prohibition on the possession of child pornography. He may also not have a post office box without his probation officer’s approval.
Ballantyne will also be forbidden to contact his victims—who include, according to the agreement, 13-year-old girls in New Jersey and Blythe, Calif.—and must come no closer than 100 yards to them.
He is also forbidden from frequenting places where minors are likely to be found, like school yards, parks, public swimming pools, playgrounds and video arcades.
In addition, he is barred from owning or working for a business that sells materials depicting sexual contact and may not possess computers, computer equipment, passwords or e-mail addresses not approved by his probation officer.
Ballantyne will also be required to pay up to $32 a month for federal monitoring of his computer and, should he gain monetarily from the images he obtained on the Internet, he must submit the funds to the government and turn over ownership of those images to authorities.
According to the plea agreement, Ballantyne will also give up basic rights of citizenship, including the rights to vote, own a firearm, hold public office and serve on a jury.
Ballantyne taught at Rim High beginning in 2007 until his release as part of a 2010 budget cut. He subsequently found a teaching job at Arrowview Middle School in San Bernardino.
At that school, Yang said following his arrest, Ballantyne continued sexually preying on teenage girls, including one in his own class. He allegedly contacted the girl online, posing as a 15-year-old boy, and cultivated a relationship with her over two years.
Ballantyne persuaded that girl to send him nude photos by e-mail, Yang said.
NO NEW CHARGES
But Ballantyne was not charged with any of the alleged violations at Arrowview. Instead, the charges against him included those uncovered in a two-state investigation. Outlined in an FBI special agent’s affidavit, they resulted from the New Jersey girl’s disclosure of her Internet relationship with a man called John Baldwin.
That man was later found to be Ballantyne, who, the affidavit said, told the girl he loved her, got her to masturbate during phone conversations and persuaded her to e-mail him sexually explicit images of herself.
The plea agreement also notes that Ballantyne knowingly induced the New Jersey teen to engage in activities for which he could have been charged, under California law, with lewd acts with a child.
The complaint against Ballantyne says he had also obtained sexual images from a 15-year-old girl he’d met online, while the plea agreement outlined how, at age 29, he had traveled about 180 miles to have sex with a 13-year-old girl who lives in Blythe.
Asked Tuesday about the length of Ballantyne’s post-prison probation, Yang said, “supervised release can be up to life.”
For Ballantyne there could be an element of chance in signing the agreement, which he said in his declaration he had done after conferring with his attorney.
In its first paragraph, the document says the agreement is limited to the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) and “cannot bind any other federal, state, local or foreign prosecuting, enforcement, administrative or regulatory authorities.”
In another section it states the defendant understands that the court and the United States Probation Office are not parties to this agreement and need not accept any of the USAO’s sentencing recommendations.
The agreement is signed by Yang, Ballantyne and Stephen D. Demik, Ballantyne’s attorney.