Maryland man charged in baby sex abuse case

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A Maryland man was indicted for allegedly conspiring in the molestation of a 6-week-old boy born prematurely and placed in the custody of a pediatric nurse — a San Diego resident — who is a co-defendant, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego announced today.

Stephen Schaffner, 34, is charged with conspiracy and nine counts of sexual exploitation of a child, according to federal prosecutors. The co-defendant, 50-year-old Michael William Lutts, was charged in the case last month.

According to court documents, Lutts was a foster parent who brought the infant to his home on Aug. 4 and texted Schaffner, “Hey I have a baby for us.”

The nurse at Kaiser Permanente subsequently transmitted images of the boy — one in clothes and others with his genitals exposed — to Schaffner, the documents show.

Prosecutors allege that the 50-year-old Lutts sent Schaffner, who lives in Greensboro, Md., several still images and videos of a sexual nature, and that Schaffner responded with messages like “That’s hot” and “Nice pic.”

“It was the object of the scheme to employ and use (the infant) to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of such conduct,” the court documents say.

Schaffner, who is in federal custody in Baltimore, was a licensed clinical counselor in Maryland until his permit was suspended in June, prosecutors said. He had previously worked as a counselor in Arizona.

He faces between 15 and 30 years in prison on each count, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to prosecutors, the case stemmed from an investigation of an email address of someone who was allegedly distributing child pornography, and Lutts was identified as a recipient.

FBI agents later searched Lutts’ home and found a cell phone that allegedly included the text messages, photographs and videos.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to contact the FBI at (410) 265-8080.

Categories: KUSI