Former director of the Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester is charged in child pornography indictment

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Edmund H. Mahony, Hartford Courant
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The former executive director the Lutz Children’s Museum in Manchester was accused of distributing obscene images of children in a federal pornography indictment disclosed Thursday by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Robert Eckert, 56, of Simsbury is accused of using the internet to distribute multiple images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct between September 2019 and May 2020, while he was running the museum and, on occasion, at the museum.

Museum officials were not immediately available Thursday to discuss the matter. The museum website said it is seeking to fill the position of executive director, which is responsible for museum operation and community outreach.

During a hearing by video teleconference in Hartford Thursday afternoon, federal prosecutors said Eckert used multiple online platforms to distribute images of child sexual abuse and to communicate with others about the distribution of child pornography, at both his home and at the museum.

Eckert appeared by video before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert A. Richardson and pleaded not guilty. He was taken into custody pending a bail hearing Friday.

If convicted of the charge of distribution of child pornography, Eckert faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

This matter is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of the Connecticut State Police and the Manchester Police Department.

The 68-year old children’s museum on South Main Street was founded by the Manchester Parent Teachers Association in honor of Hazel Lutz, an art teacher and world traveler who collected artifacts in her classroom that she hoped would be of interest to students.