Public Safety

Former Barnstormers coach faces child porn charge

Greg Stephen ordered held in jail for now

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former coach for the Iowa Barnstormers youth basketball organization will remain in jail for now, charged in federal court Tuesday with secretly recording three naked teen players.

The arrest of Greg Stephen, 42, comes nearly a month after a contractor working in Stephen’s Monticello home discovered a recording device in a bathroom and later tipped off police.

U.S. Chief Magistrate CJ Williams ruled Stephen, charged by information with one count of knowingly transporting child pornography, will be jailed pending a detention hearing Thursday.

Stephen, appearing in jeans and a Barnstormers T-shirt, spoke only to verify that his name was correct on the court document and to say he was taking medication but that it wouldn’t impair his ability to understand the proceedings. His parents also attended.

Williams said prosecutors have 30 days to convene a grand jury to indict Stephen for the felony, which has a mandatory five year and up to 20 years term in prison upon a conviction.

The Barnstormers, an amateur athletic union organization that has included prominent players on its roster, severed ties with Stephen the day authorities searched his house. Organizers since have met with parents and players and agreed to move forward.

“Our organization is bigger than one person,” Barnstormers founder Jamie Johnson said. “The kids and their families want to keep things going, so that’s what we are doing.”


The AAU program Stephen coached boasts most of the top high school basketball players in Iowa, including University of Iowa recruits Patrick McCaffery and Joe Wieskamp.

According to court records, Stephen admitted he made the videos but said he did so for a non-sexual reason.

“Stephen stated he had made the videos found on the USB recording device and further stated he had been trying to look at the development of kids and how they were growing and developing,” according to a 17-page criminal complaint compiled by Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Ryan Kedley.

Stephen told the agent he might have been “a little bit” aroused when viewing the videos, but “in the same way you would be aroused when you view anyone naked.”

The former coach denied having any sexual relationship with past for current teen players.

The investigation began Feb. 18 when Monticello police Chief Britt Smith was contacted by a witness, identified in documents as “V.E.”

The tipster told Smith he had been providing contracting services at Stephen’s home. While there Feb. 15, V.E. said he found a USB charger equipped with a video recorder in the bathroom. Authorities said he took the device home to inspect the stored files.

“V.E. stated he viewed a few of the digital files and observed what appeared to be teenage boys in a hotel bathroom, disrobing and enter/exiting the bathroom shower,” the complaint states.

V.E. indicated to investigators that 20 years ago, while working in Stephen’s home when it was owned by Stephen’s parents, he found a “file” of pictures of young boys that had been printed.


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Authorities said when V.E. and his son were at Stephen’s home again Feb. 16, they discovered one of the basketball players had spent the night. V.E. told police one of the videos he found showed that boy.

That night, according to the complaint, Stephen called V.E.’s son to ask about his charger and was “frantic” about its location. The device was turned over to the Monticello Police Department and then to the Iowa DCI on Feb. 21.

The DCI later served search warrants on Stephen’s home in Monticello and cabin in Delhi, as well as his vehicles.

Kedley wrote that he spoke Feb. 22 with Stephen at Stephen Motors, where Stephen works as general manager.

“He stated he knew it didn’t look good,” the complaint states.

Stephen told investigators he had viewed the videos on his laptop and made “digital file folders” for three boys who were current Iowa Barnstormers players.

Those boys were confirmed to be ages 12, 13, 14, authorities said.

He also told investigators the videos were made in an Embassy Suites hotel room in Lombard, Ill., when he and the boys were on a trip Jan. 26-27 to see a Chicago Bulls game.

“Stephen indicated that, at some point during the course of their stay at the Embassy Suites, he had plugged in the USB recording device,” documents state. “Stephen indicated that, to his knowledge, none of the boys were aware he was recording them ... Stephen stated that he had made these videos on a whim, thinking he could go back and look at the videos.”

Authorities ultimately seized 34 items from Stephen’s two residences, including laptops, hard drives, cellphones, security cameras and multiple “covert” devices.


Investigators said they found a clip of another boy that appears to have been recorded at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Ankeny. The DCI said Stephen was a guest there in January and February.

The DCI also interviewed a current Iowa Barnstormers player. That player indicated that during a basketball trip to Las Vegas in summer 2016, he and two other boys shared a hotel room with Stephen. The player said he believed Stephen had been sexually touching himself while sharing a bed with him.

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Trish Mehaffey and Mike Hlas of The Gazette contributed.

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