Worker at Lake Tahoe Ski School for Kids Faces Porn Charges

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A Nevada man who worked at a children’s ski school at a Lake Tahoe resort was scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday on child pornography charges.

Stephan DeGraffenreid, 26, of Gardnerville was arrested March 30 on a charge 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. The complaint was filed with a grand jury indictment handed up on Wednesday.

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 Gardnerville daycare center.

DeGraffenreid was scheduled to appear at a preliminary examination in U.S. District Court in Reno on Thursday afternoon two counts of attempted exploitation 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.

His lawyer, David Houston of Reno, was in a meeting Thursday and not immediately available to comment, his office said.

Heavenly Ski Resort spokesman Kevin Cooper said the facility terminated DeGraffenreid 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.”

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

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.