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Online Nanny Charged With Child Sex Crimes

(AP Photo/Vermont State Police)
Photo of Douglas Shepherd, 23, released by the Vermont State Police.

MONTPELIER, Vt. (CBS/AP) A man who traveled to several states to look after children and was apparently hired by a Vermont family through an online nanny service has been charged with sex crimes involving a 10-year-old boy in his care.

Douglas J. Shepherd, 23, of Fort Myers, Fla., was charged Wednesday after he had gone to a Vermont hospital and told doctors he was having suicidal thoughts because of his alleged sexual contact with the 10-year-old boy he had been caring for, court records say.

Child pornography charges could also be filed against Shepherd once police have finished examining his electronic devices, police said.

Vermont State Police Detective Benjamin Katz said Thursday that he'd never heard of an online nanny service being used by a sexual predator.

"This case is really disturbing because the offender is going out of his way to find his victims and he's getting paid for it," said Katz, of the Northwest Unit for Special Investigations, which investigates sex crimes.

Shepherd told police he'd cared for children and worked at camps in California, Florida, Michigan, Texas and New York, according to a police affidavit. He told them he'd never had sexual contact with any of the other children in his care.

Shepherd pleaded not guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct with a child Wednesday in Vermont District Court in North Hero. It was unclear where he was being held Thursday, but he had not been released, Katz said. He did not appear to have a previous criminal record.

Katz said Thursday that Shepherd and the Vermont family he worked for both said they'd made contact through California-based eNannySource.

"There is nothing I can see in this database that would connect that person to this family," eNannySource CEO Steve Lampert told the Burlington Free Press on Wednesday. Lampert did not return a call or e-mail Thursday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Katz said Shepherd had taken care of the boy for several months last year, then returned to the family in March. Authorities allege that the abuse occurred while the family was living in a recreational vehicle that had been parked in a series of campgrounds in Grand Isle County in northwestern Vermont.

Shepherd admitted to officals he took nude photographs of the boy but said the images had not been disseminated.

In December, a Minnesota man was charged with making child pornography after advertising baby-sitting services on Craigslist. The suspect in that case admitted he engaged in sex with a toddler while recording the abuse with a video camera.

Police and Internet security experts said parents needed to be careful about people they hire online.

"It's about watching, being attentive parents, pay attention to interactions between anybody you hire and your children and making sure those interactions are appropriation," said Burlington Police Lt. Kris Carlson, the head of Vermont's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. "The most important thing for parents is 'trust your instincts."'

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