A Gaithersburg voice coach will have to register as a sex offender and serve 18 months of a 25-year jail sentence after being found guilty of sexually abusing one of his former students..
On Monday, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Michael D. Mason also ordered Timothy Ballard, 48, of Goodport Lane, to serve five years probation and to not have unsupervised contact with minors.
Ballard, who owned Ballard Vocal Studio, had originally been charged in November 2012 with child sex abuse and committing six counts of sex offense. After his first trial ended in a hung jury in April 2013, Ballard was eventually convicted of one count of child sex abuse in November 2013.
Prosecutors had asked for four to nine years of jail time for Ballard, but Michael J. McAuliffe, his attorney, asked for a lenient sentence.
“This is the exceptional case where the court should go well below the guidelines and not incarcerate this gentleman,” he argued.
The case highlighted the murky waters lawyers and prosecutors must navigate in sex abuse cases and the challenges juries face when they have to decide whether to convict a defendant based off of little physical evidence or corroborating testimony.
Prosecutors argued that Ballard’s actions had been a “textbook case” of a sex abuser grooming his victim.
“What is exceptional to the state is the way in which Mr. Ballard is a different man to different people,” argued Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Jessica Hall, noting parents still supported him. Another of his ex-students had told prosecutors that Ballard had constantly asked him about his sex life, offered to let the student use his home for sex, and given him alcohol.
In court, Mason said he had received 20 to 30 letters attesting to Ballard’s character.
Despite the accusations of sex abuse and Ballard’s ultimate conviction, parents of Ballard’s pupils showed their support at his sentencing.
One mother told Mason she would have “absolutely no problem” with Ballard teaching her child.
“We will never know and can not know whether the abuse in this case took the form of one act or multiple acts,” Mason said.
In the two trials that eventually led to Ballard’s conviction, jurors learned about a relationship between a teacher and a student that became inappropriately close. The Gazette is not naming the teen because he was the victim of sex abuse.
In trial, however, the teen testified that he had started taking semi-private vocal lessons with Ballard in 2007, when he was 10 or 11 years old. As he grew older, he and Ballard became friends. Ballard also became friends with his parents, and the victim would sometimes talk with Ballard about questions he had about his sexuality. At times, the boy stayed at Ballard’s home between Friday and Saturday lessons, which is where Ballard had given him alcohol and played “Truth or Dare” with him, and performed a sex act on him, he testified.
McAuliffe had claimed the allegations were the actions of an embittered, disgruntled teenager who didn’t want to take voice lessons any longer, and that several of the acts of which Ballard had been accused would have been physically impossible to perform given his bulk.
Ballard wrote a letter to the judge in advance of his sentencing, and did not speak in court.
His victim, who has graduated from high school and is attending college, was not at the hearing.
“The thing we were most concerned about was making sure this didn’t happen to someone else,” his father said, after the sentence was handed down. “I wouldn’t want this to happen to a friend of mine, but he did this to my son. He deserves what he’s getting.”