- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

RENO, Nev. (AP) - A former worker at a children’s ski school at a Lake Tahoe resort pleaded not guilty Thursday to sexual exploitation of a minor and child pornography charges accusing him of photographing young children in a bathroom at a rural Nevada daycare.

Stephan DeGraffenreid, 26, entered the pleas to four federal counts in U.S. District Court in Reno.

U.S. Magistrate William Cobb set a hearing for April 18 to determine whether he should continue to be held without bail until a trial set for June 13.

DeGraffenreid was arrested March 30 on a single count of sexual exploitation of a minor. A criminal complaint claims his cellphone found on the slopes at the Heavenly ski resort was filled with nude photos of prepubescent females.

Federal agents say a search of DeGraffenreid’s home in January found additional images of 3- and 4-year-old children taken in a bathroom at a daycare center in Gardnerville about 15 miles (24 kilometers) south of Carson City.

The complaint was filed with a grand jury indictment handed up Wednesday on two counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of possession of child pornography, in addition to the first charge. If convicted of all charges, he could receive a minimum of 45 years in prison.

The criminal complaint said DeGraffenreid admitted to downloading and possessing child pornography. He was being held without bail Thursday night in the Washoe County jail in Reno.

His lawyer, David Houston, withdrew a motion he filed earlier in the day requesting permission to submit a psychological examination and psychosexual risk assessment of DeGraffenreid under seal because it contains medical diagnoses that are highly confidential and should not be made public. He said after the hearing he had no immediate comment but that he intends to file additional documents before the bail hearing that would not be sealed.

“I want to become better educated with the case before I say anything. We haven’t seen any of the government’s discovery yet,” Houston said outside the courtroom.

Kevin Cooper, a spokesman for the Heavenly Ski Resort where DeGraffenreid worked at South Lake Tahoe, California, said the facility terminated him immediately upon learning of the investigation.

“We have no reason to believe that the alleged activity has any connection to Heavenly Ski Resort or its guests,” Cooper said in a statement. “The alleged activity is abhorrent to everything that our resort stands for and we remain available to cooperate with the authorities in their investigation, if requested.”

Federal agents said in the criminal complaint that they tied DeGraffenreid to an investigation that was closed in 2011 when they couldn’t locate a suspect who had downloaded 106 images of child porn and child erotica to a Microsoft account.

Local authorities began to investigate two years ago after a Heavenly employee found an Apple iPod on the ski slopes at South Lake Tahoe, California, in April 2015 and gave it to security officers, who turned it over to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s office, the complaint said. The iPod contained images of nude girls in explicit poses, including one female under the age of 18 engaging in a sex act with an unknown male, the complaint said.

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