A 19-year-old babysitter, Ryan Michael Spencer of Aptos, California, was arrested after being accused of snapping nude photos of children while babysitting and later sharing the images. The Mercury News reports that a witness, a man who admitted to trading child pornography with Spencer, told FBI on April 26 that Spencer had “placed thousands of pornographic images and videos on a hard drive for the witness,” which has since been seized by the FBI.
The witness went on to tell the FBI that Spencer, who is studying at Cabrillo College to become an elementary school teacher, had also sent pictures of naked children via KIK application, a free instant messenger application. Spencer, a babysitter for several families in the Aptos area and an after school program assistant at Mar Vista Elementary School, reportedly told the witness that he would use a “towel trick” to take photos of the naked, underage children he was babysitting without anyone noticing.
He also stated that he would purportedly “engage in sexually explicit conduct” with the children, who he preferred to be between the ages of 4- and 8-years-old, as they were sleeping.
This new information prompted officers with the Aptos Police Department to conduct a search at Spencer’s home, where they said to have seized his devices and uncovered messages in his KIK messaging app that was sent to the witness.
Authorities say the messages discussed babysitting jobs in Aptos. Their alleged plan was to work as a babysitter for families so that they could “have physical contact with children, to take lewd and lascivious photos of them and to share those photos with each other.”
According to an affidavit, nude images of underage girls and boys in bathtubs and locker rooms were found on Spencer’s iPhone.
During an interview with FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Hadley, the recent Aptos High School graduate admitted to snapping nude photos of children—boys and girls—while they were in his care, and sharing the images. Spencer also admitted to “downloading illegal child pornography from the internet.”
The FBI arrested Spencer on charges of possessing child pornography, but the Aptos babysitter could face more criminal charges after the “indictment is officially filed.”
After Spencer’s arrest, Santa Cruz County Parks Director Jeff Gaffney wrote the following message.
“We recently became aware of allegations involving a former extra-help worker at the Mar Vista ACE (After School Childhood Enrichment) program, and we share the concerns of every parent about the nature of these allegations. At this time, we have no reason to believe these allegations involve any of the children under the care of the ACE program.”
“Investigators have not visited County facilities nor interviewed current County employees, and it is our policy and practice that no County worker is alone with any child at any time. The former worker was terminated once we learned of this case. We care deeply about the safety of our children, and while the information we have is limited, we encourage parents who have concerns to reach out to us.”
Parents were outraged after learning of Spencer’s arrest on child pornography charges, but the school district and county officials stated that he wasn’t left alone with students at Mar Vista Elementary School. One parent disagrees, stating that the “children were left alone with him at times. My daughter used to go there and I would sometimes pick her up next to last, leaving a child there alone with him.”
“It’s completely upsetting to anyone who has kids or knows kids,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Clark.
The Aptos babysitter made an appearance at the San Francisco federal courtroom on Tuesday for a detention hearing where he was denied bail. A judge ruled that Spencer is to remain in custody until his trial begins at an unspecified date.
[Featured Image by digicomphoto/iStock]