COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal jury found a Maryland man guilty of pornographic crimes and exploiting Ohio teens on Tuesday, according to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker’s office.
The trial against 72-year-old Bernhard Jakits began on May 22 and wrapped up on Tuesday when the jury found him guilty of eight counts. He now faces a minimum prison sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison.
His charges stem from the findings of the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office in January 2019.
The sheriff’s office received information about two potential exploitation victims. According to a release, authorities used a forensic examination of cell phones and other electronic devices and found that Jakits has communicated via text with two teenage victims — coercing them to send nude photos of themselves.
The release says that in December 2018 and January 2019, Jakits sexually exploited a 15-year-old girl to create child pornography and attempted to exploit a 13-year-old girl.
Jakit coerced the two teens and used the TextNow app to get pornographic images of the minors in exchange for money. He also sought to video chat with the girls, offering thousands of dollars, but both declined, according to Parker’s office.
Jakits was able to meet the minors based on his relationship with their mother. During that time, he paid for the mother to engage in sexual acts via video chats.
Parker’s office says Jakits owned houses in Maryland and California and was able to travel the world on his yacht after he ran and sold a yacht brokerage business.
The sentencing of Jakits will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.