Public Safety

Former youth basketball coach accused of child pornography asks judge to dismiss charge

He argues video of naked teens not porn

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former youth basketball coach charged with secretly recording naked teenage players in a bathroom is asking a judge to dismiss the charge, claiming it’s not child pornography and he has a right to those images.

A lawyer for Greg S. Stephen, 42, charged in April with one count of transportation of child pornography, also argues the evidence — recording of three teen boys — should not be allowed at trial because it was acquired illegally.

Mark Meyer, in his motion filed in U.S. District Court last week, said the court’s interpretation of this law is “constitutionally overbroad” and violates Stephen’s First Amendment rights.

Stephen shouldn’t be “punished” under this charge because he transported digital images of teenage boys that aren’t pornographic and don’t involve lascivious depictions of the minors, he said.

Meyer points out that the teens didn’t know they were being recorded, there’s no evidence they were touched or directed to pose, the camera doesn’t focus on the teens’ anatomy, and the images weren’t distributed.

Meyer also argues U.S. District Senior Judge Linda Reade misapplied case law in her previous ruling.

“Mr. Stephen has a First Amendment right to possess images of adolescent boys engaged in innocent conduct that is not pornographic or otherwise lascivious,” Meyer said in the motion.

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Judge Reade, in a ruling last month, pointed out Stephen admitted to an investigator that he recorded the images out of “sexual curiosity” and that he became aroused while viewing them.

“Additionally, the secretive and extensive nature of defendant’s efforts to record nude, pubescent boys indicates that these images were created for his sexual gratification,” Reade said in the ruling.

Meyer, in a motion filed Monday, said the video evidence shouldn’t be allowed at trial because the contractor who took the USB device and camera from Stephen’s Monticello house had no right to touch or remove it from the home.

The contractor turned it over to police after he found recording equipment in the bathroom in February and became suspicious, according to court documents.

Meyer said the contractor violated Stephen’s right to privacy and the “police exploited that crime” by keeping the USB device several days, while Stephen attempted to locate it, before obtaining a search warrant for Stephen’s home.

The contractor “stole and examined” the device in an “apparent effort” to assists law enforcement — acting as an “agent of the government.”

Meyer, in the motion, said the application for the search warrant didn’t describe child pornography. The application stated the video shows footage of young males showering in what appeared to be a hotel shower. It can be “assumed” the minors were naked but nudity isn’t pornography according to law, he contends.

The other searches of Stephen’s other home and the other electronic devices found should also be thrown out because those warrants were also a result of the stolen USB device.

Meyer asks the court for a hearing on this motions.

Prosecutors hadn’t filed a response Tuesday.

Stephen’s trial is set for June 4 in U.S. District Court.

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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