Former “talent judge” gets 25 years on child porn charges

John Baker will serve a 25 year prison term for producing child pornography.

John Baker will serve a 25 year prison term for producing child pornography.

ORLANDO — Throughout the course of his career as an actor and photographer in Central Florida, John David Baker served as a talent judge for a local talent competition, a position that gave him the opportunity to meet young people — including children in search of mentoring and a career in the performance arts.
On Thursday, Baker, 30, of Celebration, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for abusing that position and using children to produce child pornography over the Internet.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell handed down that sentence to Baker, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom. Baker was also ordered to serve a 15-year term of supervised release following his years in prison, and to register as a sex offender.
He had been arrested by the United States Marshals Service on Sept. 7, 2012, and has been in federal custody ever since. He was arrested after a forensic examiner did an analysis of Baker’s computer and discovered images and a video of an underage boy engaging in what the authorities called “sexually explicit conduct.”
“Mr. Baker abused his position as a talent judge and acting coach to pursue inappropriate relationships with minors,” said Shane Folden, deputy special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Tampa.
He credited the arrest and successful prosecution to Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to fight child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood brings together federal, state, and local resources to apprehend and prosecute people like Baker who sexually exploit children.
Folden said parents also have a critical role to play in these efforts.
“We urge parents to talk to their children about how to protect themselves from sexual predators, and if they are exploited, they should report it,” Folden said. “There are dedicated law enforcement officers and special agents at all levels of government who will do something about it. This case is testament to that. Mr. Baker will spend the next 25 years behind bars due to his actions.”
That’s what happened in this case, Folden’s office noted.
Between November 2008 and August 2010, the Department of Justice noted, Baker was using computers and interactive computer services to have online conversations with children. He was working as an actor and was training and auditioning both adults and children pursuing careers in the entertainment business.
Baker also served as a talent judge for a talent competition, where he auditioned children. But the parent of one of those children became concerned after Baker contacted the child online, and notified law enforcement, triggering the investigation.
According to the Department of Justice, Baker was interviewed by law enforcement, and admitted he’d been confronted by the director of the talent competition about “inappropriate online contact with minors.” Baker also admitted to having “sexually-oriented chatting with other minors from the talent competition online,” the arrest report notes. “Baker also admitted to having sent or traded sexually-oriented photos of himself or others during (online) chats, and having solicited photos from at least ten children in the talent competition.”
That included obtaining pornographic images over the Internet of a young girl, then using her images to create a fake online personae for himself that he used to convince two other children to send him images and videos of themselves engaging in sex acts, the Justice Department notes.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Contact Freeline Media at FreelineOrlando@gmail.com.

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