Fitness guru recruited underage girls on social media for ‘sex slave training program’ that led to prostitution, FBI says

News & Politics

A man who called himself a fitness guru was recruiting underage girls for a “sex slave training program” that would lead to their being prostituted, according to a statement from the FBI.

54-year-old John Douglas Burch of Santa Monica, California, recruited women from his social media accounts on Snapchat, KIK, Discord, Telegram, Instagram, and Facebook. He advertised himself as a fitness expert who could help professionals who wanted to lose weight while “eating any food you love,” and only working out ten minutes per day.

Investigators said that his “online child exploitation scheme” originated in 2014 and targeted minor females in North Carolina, California, and Pennsylvania, but they believe there may be more victims from other states. He would also target some adult females for his scheme.

Burch’s sex slave training allegedly involved having victims watch violent pornography and listen to “explicit and sexually-charged audio recordings.” He then would have them create pornographic images and videos and transport them to him via the internet, according to investigators.

Burch would allegedly make the girls create “online dating profiles designed to encourage sexual encounters and commercial sex,” give them “step-by-step instructions to perform specific sexual acts to be carried out during these meetings,” and document the meetings with photos and videos.

The FBI said they identified one victim who was 13 or 14 years old in 2014, when Burch allegedly targeted her after meeting her on the Omegle chatting application. He allegedly had sex with the girl, who was from Pennsylvania, and then groomed her for prostitution at the King of Prussia Mall at Montgomery County.

Prosecutors said Burch would instruct the girl to sit at a bench at the mall and wait for clients he would send to find her. She was prostituted to about a dozen men in the span of three years, according to the FBI.

Burch was indicted on federal charges of traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct and enticement of a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct and prostitution. He faces a sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.

Experts have cautioned parents to limit the time their children are on social media and also to monitor the apps on which they may be able to encounter strangers.

The FBI is asking for anyone else who might have been victimized by Burch to contact them via their website.

Here’s a news report about Burch’s arrest:

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