Robert Eckert, former executive director of the Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester, Connecticut, has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison for distributing child pornography, according to a January 3 statement from the US Attorney’s Office.
In June 2020, authorities uncovered 1,837 images and 73 videos of sexually explicit content involving prepubescent minors and young teenagers on Eckert’s cellphone, 32 of which depicted child victims identified by law enforcement. Eckert, 57, was placed on administrative leave and eventually fired from the museum, and in April 2021, he was arrested. He plead guilty in September 2022 and will begin his federal prison sentence on February 15.
Eckert received and distributed child pornography on various Internet platforms using various fictitious accounts, and accessed the sites both at home and while at work.
“It is axiomatic that sharing images depicting child sexual abuse is antithetical to the mission of a children’s museum,” wrote the prosecutors in their sentencing memo, which was reviewed by Hyperallergic. “But, to make it even worse, Eckert traded child pornography from his office in the Lutz.”
In a statement shared with Hyperallergic, a Lutz Children’s Museum spokesperson said there is no evidence that any museum visitor, volunteer, or staff member was impacted by Eckert’s actions.
“From the moment the allegations concerning Robert Eckert came to light, the Lutz Children’s Museum has taken any and all steps necessary to protect the safety and well-being of its patrons, volunteers and staff,” the spokesperson said, adding that the museum will continue to cooperate with all legal investigations. The representative did not confirm the dates of Eckert’s tenure at the institution.
Eckert’s attorney, Trent LaLima, said in a statement that Eckert has been receiving mental health treatment and attending sex offender group therapy sessions since his arrest. LaLima added that Eckert’s wife of 16 years has divorced him and he no longer has a relationship with his ex-wife’s children nor with one of his biological children. LaLima has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment.
The sentencing memo states that Eckert’s actions were not “a single blip in a life that was otherwise well-lived” but rather “at least a year of trading child pornography.” US Attorney for the District of Connecticut Vanessa Roberts Avery emphasized the continued harm to child pornography victims: “Victims live with persistent concern over who has seen images of their sexual abuse and suffer by knowing that the images depicting the worst moments of their lives are being used for pleasure and sexual gratification.”
Did You Know These Museums Were Free for New Yorkers?
The “Free Admission” campaign is advocating to make ticket pricing information more transparent to visitors, who may be confused or misled by institutions’ language.
AI Images Visualizing Trump’s Arrest Send Internet Into a Frenzy
The pictures, created using Midjourney, depict the former president’s greatest fantasy: being dragged away by police in front of the cameras.
Haggerty Museum of Art Presents Tomás Saraceno in Dialogue With Dr. Somesh Roy
The artist and researcher will explore soot’s effects on climate change and public health in this online conversation.
Some AI Artworks Now Eligible for Copyright
New guidance from the US Copyright Office sets some policies around AI-generated images.
NYC Hispanic Society Workers to Strike Indefinitely
One worker said the museum’s “skeletal” workforce bars the institution from functioning to its potential.
McKnight Visual Artist Fellows Discussion Series at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The series features 2021 Fellows David Bowen, Mara Duvra, Rotem Tamir, Ben Moren, and Dyani White Hawk in conversation with renowned curators and critics.
In Search of Inclusive South Asian Futurisms
We have been dangerously siloed for far too long by colonial constructs of race, nation, and time that separate, divide, and deny us our very being.
What Do Shtreimels and Cowboy Hats Have in Common?
A chance meeting on the subway introduced photographer Francesca Magnani to the multicultural world of Brooklyn milliner Richard Faison.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Richard Hull Completes the Picture
Once known for his abstracted portraits, the Chicago artist is now exploring new directions.
You Too Can Have Your Art on a Postage Stamp
The process isn’t complicated, and thousands of people submit themselves for the talent pool every year.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.