A former social studies teacher accused of exchanging sexually explicit images with a 13 year old in New Jersey pleaded not guilty Monday, according to FBI officials.
Eugene Ballntyne, 29, of Running Springs, was charged with five counts, including sexual exploitation of a minor and receipt and possession of a child pornography, on March 23.
Ballantyne is accused sending nude photos of himself to a victim, whom he met in a chat room under the false name John Baldwin, wrote Laura Eimiller with Los Angeles FBI in a news release Monday.
Four more minor-aged victims have been identified in the investigation, which started last month when one victim’s parent contacted detectives in the South Brunswick, New Jersey, according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court on March 9.
Ballantyne expressed his love for the victim and in at least one message said "how lucky" he was that the victim was "in his life," Eimiller wrote in a statement released in March.
Ballantyne, who taught at Arrowview Middle School in San Bernardino, reportedly admitted to agents during a federal search warrant that he had been communicating with the minor in New Jersey and two more minors he met online, Eimiller wrote.
He admitted to police that he had sex with one of those additional victims after traveling 180 miles to where she was, Eimiller wrote.
If convicted of all charges, Ballantyne faces as a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison. His trial is scheduled for May 1.
Anyone with information about this case, or the unreported victimization of minors, is urged to contact the FBI at 888 226-8443.