A middle school teacher in San Bernardino was arrested Tuesday by the FBI on child pornography charges. Eugene Ballantyne, 29, taken into custody at his home, is accused of trading sexually explicit photos with a 13-year-old New Jersey girl.
According to a FBI affidavit filed in federal court, the teacher also told investigators he had sex with a 17-year-old girl in July, and that two years earlier he'd received sexually explicit pictures from a 15-year-old girl, NBC LA reports.
Under the alias "John Baldwin," Ballantyne contacted the South Brunswick, N.J. teen in an internet chat room. The suspect, claiming to be a 25-year-old teacher from Corona, also corresponded with the girl by cellphone and email, notes the L.A. Times.
FBI investigators and South Brunswick police tracked emails, calls and photos to Ballantyne’s cellphone after the girl’s mother reported to local authorities that illicit material was being exchanged between her daughter and a man in California.
San Bernardino City Unified School District placed Ballantyne, who worked for the district for 17 months, on leave beginning March 1. He resigned on March 2.
The Times reports there is no evidence that Ballentyne had illegal contact with students at Arrowview Middle School where he taught social studies. He is seen, however, seated behind a desk in an Arrowview classroom in one of the images. A Google Maps tag revealed where the photo was taken, according to the affidavit filed by Special Agent Jeffrey R. Stiff.
The district is cooperating with the investigation. Ballantyne was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Riverside on Tuesday. He faces up to 20 years in prison.