SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego judge on Monday sentenced a pediatric nurse to 80 years in federal prison for molesting a 2-month-old boy and making lewd photos of a baby girl.
Calling the defendant the "worst of the worst," U.S. District Judge John Houston told the court he opted for the maximum sentence for 52-year-old Michael Lutts to send a message.
Lutts pleaded guilty in January to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of distribution of child pornography. He admitted to 15 instances in July and August of 2014 in which he photographed and videotaped the babies in his care in sexually explicit situations at his home and workplace. Prosecutors said Lutts molested the boy while he was in his care as a foster parent.
Neither Lutts nor his attorney could be immediately reached for comment.
Lutts also admitted emailing pornographic images of the children to others.
Houston described his conduct as "horrific" and "worse than a mass murderer shooting 20 people" because the newborns he targeted "are the most fragile people to victimize." The judge said he would not recommend psychological treatment for Lutts, saying it would be "futile" and a waste of taxpayer money.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serano had urged Houston to hand down a 65-year prison term, which would amount to a life sentence given his age.
The judge also ordered Lutts to forfeit his San Diego home, where most of the crimes occurred.
"This is one of most appalling, heart-wrenching cases I have seen in this district," said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in a statement. "All child exploitation cases are heinous. But it's a whole new level of depravity when the victims are babies in the care of a trusted nurse."