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FBI arrests 19-year-old male babysitter on child porn charges

Ryan Michael Spencer, a 19-year-old childcare provider and overnight camp counselor in Aptos, California, was arraigned on possession of child pornography charges Tuesday morning in Federal Court in San Francisco.

Spencer, a resident of Aptos, CA, a town in Santa Cruz County an hour south of San Francisco, was employed by the Santa Cruz County Parks and Recreation after-school program which operated on an elementary school campus. He also worked as an extra-help worker at the County-run after-school program and seasonal camps and was studying early childhood education at a local community college.

According to his LinkedIn page , Spencer has “6 years of experience working with kids – from toddlers to teenagers – as a cabin leader, babysitter, and older brother of three.”  Spencer also obtained work as a babysitter via Care.com, however his profile page was deactivated once news broke of his arrest.

Santa Cruz County Parks Director Jeff Gaffney shared the following letter to the community via various social media such as the neighborhood news site Nextdoor.com on Monday:

“We recently became aware of allegations involving a former extra-help worker at the Mar Vista ACE 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.”

The Mercury News reported that Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools Michael Watkins issued a statement confirming the FBI had notified the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (SCCOE) that an employee had been charged with possession of child pornography.

“The person arrested was a temporary, part-time aide and substitute cabin leader for the SCCOE’s Outdoor Science School. He was hired in October 2016 and has since been terminated,”Watkins said.

Watkins also wrote that the FBI informed the county that all the evidence against Spencer has not yet been reviewed and no victims have been identified due to file encryption.

According to documents filed with the court by FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Hadley, Spencer is being charged with possession of child pornography and is suspected of sexually abusing and taking photos of children in his care while babysitting.

Documents presented during the May 9 arraignment allege that 24-year-old Bryan Petersen of Tiburon, a wealthy town in Marin County north of San Francisco, stated he shared messages and images with Ryan Spencer.

Petersen also stated the two men actively produced pornographic images of the children they babysat and shared them. Petersen was arrested in April and was found to be in possession of between 10,000 and 100,000 imaged of child pornography.

Messages between Petersen and Spencer shared via the messaging app Kik show the men “solicited jobs as babysitters, camp counselors, and teachers in order to gain access to children; that they sought physical contact with the children and encouraged them to remove their clothes, that they took photos of the children entrusted to their care while the children were naked; and that they shared those images with at least each other,” stated court documents.

Spencer is due in court again on May 16.

[Feature Photo: Facebook]