A woman who worked as a nanny in the Boston area is now accused of possessing and distributing child phonography.
Stephanie Lak, 36, is charged with possession of child pornography and distribution of material of a child in a sex act, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office. Officials announced the charges this week.
In March 2021, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children contacted the Boston Police Department’s Crimes Against Children unit with information that eight separate images of child sexual abuse were being trafficked over an IP address in Roxbury, according to the district attorney's office.
The center acted after receiving a CyberTip from MediaLab/Kik that uploaded and shared files believed to be child sexual abuse material, the office noted.
On April 15, Boston police and the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force searched Lak’s residence and seized a laptop and three smart phones, according to the office.
On April 27, Lak admitted to receiving and sending about 100 files of child sexual abuse material and engaging in conversation with other social media users in which the abuse of children was discussed, prosecutors claim.
As recently as last month, Lak was active on sittercity.com, an online marketplace for nannies and babysitters, which she used for several years, according to prosecutors.
Investigators discovered communications from Lak in which she identified herself as a nanny and was in virtual conversation with a caregiver from Minnesota. She encouraged him to harm children in his care and, in fact, volunteered to assist him in doing so, according to prosecutors.
“There is no bigger betrayal than people tasked with teaching, protecting, or caring for children sexually exploiting and violating them. And to be very clear, possessing and disseminating child pornography hurts children. Do not be fooled. Each still image or video chronicles an act of violence, sexual assault and/or rape. And when those images or videos are shared with other pedophiles online, that child is abused and victimized in perpetuity,’’ District Attorney Rachael Rollins said in announcing the charges.
“The alleged perpetrator in this case is a woman. We as a society need to unlearn many of our ingrained assumptions regarding who commits, and who can be a victim of, sexual assault and rape,” Rollins said.
Rollins urged parents and guardians whose children might have been in contact with Lak to please email Lakinvestigation@fbi.gov and provide your name and best contact information to have a member of the investigative team reach out.
Lak's bail was set at $5,000 with a series of conditions, including staying away from children under the age of 18, and no employment involving childcare, according to the district attorney's office. Her next court appearance is set for May 25.