DA: Roxbury woman who worked as nanny facing child porn charges

ROXBURY, Mass. — A Roxbury woman who worked as a child caregiver was arraigned in Boston Municipal Court Wednesday on two counts of child pornography.

Stephanie Lak, 36, of Roxbury, who DA Rachel Rollins said admitted to investigators that she received and sent about 100 files of child sexual abuse material, is charged with possession of child pornography and distribution of material of a child in a sex act.

Assistant District Attorney Nicole Poirier asked for $50,000 cash bail, but Judge Debra DelVecchio set cash bail at $5,000 with a series of conditions including staying away from children under the age of 18 and no employment involving childcare.

Poirier told the court that Lak, as recently as last month, was active on sittercity.com, a web-based marketplace for nannies and sitters, for several years. She posted as Stephanie Lak on the website.

“The prosecution team will continue to carefully gather and scrutinize the evidence in this case,” Rollins said. “As part of the investigation, which is active and ongoing, investigators discovered communications from Lak in which she identifies herself as a nanny and was in a virtual conversation with a caregiver from Minnesota encouraging him to harm children in his care and, in fact, volunteered to assist him in doing so.”

In March, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children contacted 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. The center was acting after receiving a CyberTip from MediaLab/Kik that a user had uploaded and shared files believed to be child sexual abuse material.

On April 15, BPD and the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force executed a search warrant at Lak’s residence and seized a laptop and three smartphones.

On April 27, Lak was interviewed by members of the investigative team and admitted receiving and sending about 100 files of child sexual abuse material, and to engaging in conversation with other social media users in which the abuse of children was discussed.

“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,’' said Rollins.

Sittercity.com released this statement:

“At Sittercity, trust and safety are paramount. Upon learning of the investigation, we worked with law enforcement to bring Stephanie Lak to justice and immediately removed her from our platform. As is the normal course, we verified Ms. Lak’s identity when she registered on the site, and, over the course of her engagement with the platform, screened her weekly against Family Watchdog, the nation’s leading sex offender registry screening service. In addition, four background checks were run on Ms. Lak, with the most recent being an enhanced background check on January 13, 2021. No criminal information was ever discovered. Sittercity remains ready to assist law enforcement in the prosecution of Stephanie Lak.”

The district attorney is urging parents and guardians whose minor dependents have been in contact with Stephanie Lak and think they could potentially be one of Lak’s victims, to email Lakinvestigation@fbi.gov and provide your name and best contact information, so investigators may contact you.

“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. “I am grateful for the vigilance of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and the excellent work by the Boston Police Department’s Crimes Against Children unit and the FBI’s Human Trafficking-Child Exploitation Task Force.”

All identities of victims will be kept confidential, Rollins said. Victims and their families may be eligible for certain services and rights under state and/or federal law.

Lak was represented in court by attorney Cory McAlister. She is due back in court on May 25. It’s a disturbing case that has her neighbors upset.

“That’s troublesome,” said a neighbor who asked not to be identified. “That’s very, very alarming. Especially, we have children of all ages, teens, pre-teens, children 3 and 4 years old who live on the property.”

Of the scene in Roxbury Wednesday, that neighbor added, “It was a whole fleet of police officers with cameras, videotaping, taking pictures. They had all our neighbors out in the backyard.”

That man lives next door and asked us not to use his name. He said he was shocked by the charges.

“Would never expect to see her doing anything or to be accused of such a horrific act,” he said.

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