By Kevin Deutsch
The prosecution of Coral Springs gastroenterologist Stewart Bitman on child sex chat charges has gone federal, with the doctor now facing up to life in prison for his alleged crimes, authorities said.
Bitman’s exchanges of sexually explicit materials with underage girls led to an initial state court case in Broward County, then a second case once more contacts with children were revealed, court records show. The scope of the case has broadened enough to warrant a move to federal court in Fort Lauderdale, authorities said.
“Our office agreed that it was appropriate for all of the criminal allegations against him to be handled together in federal court,” said Paula McMahon, public information officer for the Broward State Attorney’s Office.
Bitman, 65, faces nine federal charges, records show; four counts of enticement of a minor; two counts of production of child pornography; one count of attempted production of child pornography; and two counts of receipt of child pornography.
A federal grand jury indicted Bitman on Aug. 31, with his arraignment scheduled for Sept. 27. He had previously pleaded not guilty to state criminal charges, which are no longer being pursued, records show.
The Parkland resident faces fines of at least $250,000 and up to life in prison if convicted.
Bitman’s attorney, Joshua Rydell, did not return a phone message seeking comment.
Bitman was first arrested by authorities in January 2021 for sending sexual text messages and nude photos of himself to a 13-year-old child, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office. In that case, he faced charges of using a computer for child exploitation, as well as three counts of transmitting harmful materials to a minor, court records show.
Authorities said he was arrested again in June for exchanging sexually explicit Snapchat messages, photographs, and videos with underage girls.
After being served with a search warrant, Snapchat provided authorities with the contents of Bitman’s account, records show. The files contained chat conversations that Bitman conducted with hundreds of people who identified themselves as minor children, authorities said.
Bitman sometimes received sexually explicit images or videos from the minors in exchange for promises of money, which they never received, court records show.
After investigators seized his digital records, Bitman admitted messaging with kids but called his activities “just fantasy,” the records show.
Bitman is being held without bond at the Paul Rein Detention Facility in Pompano Beach, records show.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.
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