Judge convicts Schaffner for sexually exploiting baby
The judge, hearing Stephen Schaffner’s case in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, accepted the terms of his guilty plea.
In October 2014, the Greensboro man had originally pleaded “not guilty” to all 10 counts of a federal indictment which outlined how he conspired with a man in California to sexually abuse a six week-old baby who was born prematurely.
But during his rearraignment, Friday, Scaffner changed his plea to “guilty” on two of the counts, with the stipulation that the other eight counts would be thrown out after sentencing.
This was the deal the 34 year-old’s defense team made with federal prosecutors, which means a maximum of 35 years in prison for his crimes. But he waived his right to appeal the conviction.
“In the federal system,” explains Assistant U.S. Attorney, Zachary Myers, “there is no parole. And 85-percent of any sentence, imprisonment, has to be served in federal custody.”
According to the plea agreement, Schaffner started collecting child pornography in 2004, storing pictures and videos on digital devices, storage media and online accounts, which were all confiscated from his home in Greensboro the day he was arrested.
In his electronic communications, Schaffner repeatedly expressed a sexual interest in boys from “age zero” up, as well as a desire to commit violent sexual abuse against infants; from making them cry during the abuse, to injuring or killing children in the course of sexual abuse. He discussed drugging and killing children to ensure that the children do not report the abuse.
Schaffner showed up on the FBI’s radar in June 2014 because he was communicating with Michael Lutts, a pediatric nurse that lived and worked in San Diego County, California.
A special agent was investigating Lutts for distributing child pornography.
It was on August 4, 2014, that Lutts brought home the six week-old baby boy, who was placed in his care as a foster child. That evening, Lutts texted Schaffner images of the infant.
Over the next several hours, Schaffner and Lutts exchanged numerous graphic and sexually explicit messages, with Schaffner directing Lutts to sexually abuse the infant to produce photos and videos. Images were sent via Apple iMessage. The two also discussed Schaffner travelling to San Diego to rape the infant.
Michael Lutts was arrested and pleaded guilty in federal court in the Southern District of California to three counts of sexual exploitation of a child and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 20, 2015.
As for Schaffner, he left the courtroom today, Friday, in handcuffs, on his way to prison to await sentencing on July 9th
Once he serves his time, he will still have a lifetime of supervised release as a registered sex offender.
And in terms of the victim, should the infant need medical treatment or counseling as he grows up, Schaffner’s plea agreement will require him to pay the victims bills as restitution.
The U.S. Attorney in Baltimore tells 47 ABC Schaffner was formerly a licensed clinical counselor for Eastern Shore Psychological Services in Easton, Maryland, for a year and a half, providing mental health counseling to children and sex offenders.
Investigators say he was fired in November 2012 for sending an adult counseling client inappropriate text messages of a sexual nature. His license was later suspended