Former state lawmaker charged with sexual exploitation of children

Published: 07-19-2023 10:47 AM

BOSTON (AP) — A former New Hampshire state lawmaker and the one-time partner of a woman charged with taking sexually explicit photos of children at the Massachusetts day care center where she worked has also been charged in the case, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Stacie Marie Laughton, 39, of Nashua, New Hampshire, is charged with aiding and abetting the sexual exploitation of children, the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston said in a statement.

No defense attorney was listed for Laughton in court records. She will appear in court at a later date.

Lindsay Groves, 38, of Hudson, New Hampshire, was charged last month with sexual exploitation of children and distribution of child pornography for allegedly taking nude photos of children at Creative Minds Early Learning Center in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, and texting them to another person.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that a preliminary forensic review of Groves’ cellphone allegedly revealed more than 10,000 text messages between Laughton and Groves. The texts allegedly included discussion about, and transfer of, explicit photographs that Groves had taken of children who appear to be about 3 to 5 years old.

Groves remains in state custody in New Hampshire. An email seeking comment was left with her federal public defender.

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Laughton, a Democrat, resigned from the New Hampshire House in December after being charged with stalking Groves.

Laughton in 2012 was believed to be the first transgender person elected to a state legislature. But she resigned before taking her seat after reports surfaced about her 2008 convictions for identity fraud and falsifying evidence. She successfully ran again in 2020 and was re-elected in 2022. She resigned in December after being jailed on the charges related to Groves.

The charge of sexual exploitation of children can lead to a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

A voicemail seeking comment was left with the day care center.