Louisville man charged with seeking sex with minor has ties to Nelson County

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Baunach acquitted of local abuse charges in 2014

A Louisville man who is accused of seeking a minor for sex in an undercover investigation was acquitted of sexual abuse in Nelson County just four years ago.

Jeffrey Baunach, 45, was arrested in Louisville Friday and accused of seeking to have sex with a minor, as well as offering his own children in exchange.

He was charged with prohibited use of an electronic communication system to procure a minor for sex and attempted use of a minor under 16 in a sex performance.

According to the post-arrest complaint from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office, Baunach met an undercover investigator online and after being advised the undercover officer had a minor child, Baunach allegedly requested to “engage that child in sex acts.” Baunach also allegedly offered the undercover officer sex with his three minor children in exchange for sex with the undercover officer’s child.

According to the report, Baunach said he would only meet up with the correspondent if they first sent him a photograph of the child’s private parts.

Both of the Louisville-based charges against Baunach are felonies. Buanach’s bond was set at $50,000 cash, and he was marked as a flight risk and danger. The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is investigating the case.

In June of 2014, following a two-day trial, Baunach was acquitted on charges of sodomy and sexual abuse.

The case involved two children of a family friend who had accused Baunach of sexually abusing them around 2000 when he was babysitting the children at their Bardstown home. The children did not report the alleged abuse until 2010 and charges were brought against Baunach in 2011. He adamantly denied the allegations.

The jury of 10 men and two women deliberated for less than an hour before delivering the not-guilty verdict.

At the time, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Ballard, who prosecuted the case, found the outcome disappointing, especially for the victims’ family.

“I hope the victims understand that just because the defendant was found not guilty does not mean the jury did not believe them or the abuse didn’t occur. It just means that it could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Ballard told The Standard after the trial.

Lt. Jason Allison of the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, who was the one to charge Baunach in 2011, said he was not surprised when his name popped up in Louisville.

“In my experience, that type of offender will often re-offend,” Allison said. While Baunach was not found guilty in the Nelson case, Allison said his team believed the abuse allegations were valid, otherwise they would not have charged him and taken the case to trial.

“I pray for the victims past and present,” Allison said.

Baunach entered a plea of not guilty in the Louisville case and has a preliminary hearing Feb. 20. According to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office, the weeklong undercover investigation was led by Attorney General Andy Beshear’s Department of Criminal Investigations’ Cyber Crimes Unit. Following the investigation, a search warrant was executed at Baunach’s Jefferson County home. Baunach is being held in Louisville Metro Corrections.

“I appreciate the work of our cyber investigators and the team at the Jefferson County Police Department,” Beshear said in the release shared with media on Monday. “Removing from the streets those who seek to exploit and abuse our children is a top priority for my office, and for law enforcement agencies throughout the commonwealth.”

The work of the Cyber Crimes Unit is part of Beshear’s office’s mission to keep sexual predators away from Kentucky’s families and children, the release states. Over the past two years, the number of arrests, indictments and convictions by Beshear’s cyber investigators has totaled more than 145.

Beshear said that Kentuckians have a moral and legal duty to report any instance of child abuse to local law enforcement or to Kentucky’s Child Abuse Hotline at 877-597-2331 or 877-KYSAFE1.