County foster agency responds to newborn molestation case

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SAN DIEGO – The San Diego County Child Welfare Services was stunned after hearing about the pediatric nurse accused of molesting a 2-month-old baby, who was placed in his foster care.

Michael Lutts, 50, plead not guilty to one count of sexual exploitation of a 2-month-old child and he is expected to return to federal court Friday morning.

“There is documented video and images of him engaging in the molestation of his child,” said FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth.

“I think all of us are extremely disappointed and upset about the betrayal,” said Debra Zanders-Willis, director of Child Welfare Services.

According to Zanders-Willis, they have 1,400 foster homes in the county and each family must go through rigorous screening to qualify as a foster parent.

“We do a criminal background clearance,” said Zanders-Willis. “You have to have a tuberculosis test and you have to attend 27 hours of training.”

Each home must also be carefully checked before any children are placed.

“We inspect the home for safety all type of safety issues and after all that is completed a family or person is granted a license by the state of California,” said Zanders-Willis.

There are nearly 3,000 foster children in the county and Zanders-Willis said it’s up to social workers to conduct once a month welfare checks.

“They visit the child, visit the caretaker and also explore the home environment.”

In the case of Lutts, Zanders-Willis said the agency is devastated and has no idea how this even happened.

“Unfortunately, in this situation we have one that fell through the cracks,” she said.

Zanders-Willis would not disclose how long Lutts had been a foster parent and how many children had been in his care.

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