According to an FBI criminal complaint, Ryan Michael Spencer of Aptos, has been accused of manufacturing pornographic photographs and videos of underage boys, and sharing the images. Spencer, a recent Aptos High School graduate, worked as a babysitter for local families and as an after school program assistant at Mar Vista Elementary School.
According to KSBW, The Pajaro Valley Unified School District said it was alerted by the FBI Friday, May 5 that a Santa Cruz County employee had been arrested. PVUSD Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez said the arrested man was employed at the After School Childhood Enrichment Program at Mar Vista Elementary School, managed by the county. He was also a Cabrillo College Early Education student who observed teachers at Valencia Elementary School. Rodriguez declined to release the arrested man’s name.
However, Spencer’s name appears in the FBI’s Criminal Complaint.
FBI special agent Elizabeth Hadley said the FBI interviewed the primary witness on April 26 and said he “traded” child pornography with Spencer.
According to the Criminal Complaint, the witness said, “Spencer’s primary source of income is from babysitting numerous children, and that Spencer takes images and video of many of these children when they are naked. Spencer told the witness that his preference is for children approximately four to eight-years-old.”
In April, Spencer sent the witness images of young naked boys who were in a locker room changing after a swim lesson. The witness gave Spencer a hard drive, and the Aptos teen put thousands of images and videos of child pornography onto the hard drive.
When FBI agents searched the teen’s house in Aptos, he admitted to taking photographs of children he babysits and “trading” the photos, documents state. Spencer used a mobile app to communicate with the witness and send images.
Agents seized multiple laptops and encrypted hard drives from Spencer’s bedroom to be processed in a forensic lab.
In part the message from Superintendent Rodriguez said, “The individual was arrested and has been terminated. He will be arraigned in federal court on Tuesday. We take this situation very seriously and will continue to work closely with both the FBI and local agencies as the investigation continues. We will provide all the information we receive to the parents and the community as more becomes available. If you have any questions, please contact me at 831-786-2135.”
The county immediately fired Spencer.
Santa Cruz County Parks Director Jeff Gaffney wrote the following regarding the recent arrest of Spencer.
“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.”
Officials with the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, County Office of Education, and County Parks Department are holding a community forum to answer questions about this incident on Thursday, May 11, at 7 p.m. The forum will be held in the Aptos High School Performing Arts Center.