CEDAR RAPIDS — After hearing new evidence that a former youth basketball coach may have inappropriately touched young players during out-of town trips, a federal magistrate decided Wednesday to continue holding him jail.
U.S. Magistrate Kelly Mahoney, presiding over the hearing by video from Sioux City, said this was a particularly “disturbing” case because Greg Stephen, 42, used his position as an Iowa Barnstormers coach to gain access to teen players — and their parents trusted him.
Yet, she noted, Stephen has qualities that speak to him being released from jail pending trial — a strong work background and family support, as well as long-standing community ties and no criminal history.
And Mahoney cited testimony from Luis Rosell, a Mount Pleasant forensic psychologist who specializes in sex offender treatment. Based on a risk assessment and evaluation he conducted, Rosell determined Stephen didn’t pose a risk to himself or others if he were to be released.
But in the end, Mahoney ruled to keep Stephen behind bars, where he has been since his March 13 arrest on a child porn charge.
She based the decision mainly on evidence that three former players from the mid-2000s had come forward, telling investigators that when they shared a bed with Stephen during sport trips, he touched their buttocks while also sexually touching himself.
Stephen, of Monticello, was charged by information last week with one count of knowingly transporting child pornography. Prosecutors are expected to convene a grand jury to seek an indictment.
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Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Ryan Kedley said police initially were tipped off Feb. 18, after a contractor who was working in Stephen’s home discovered a recording device in a bathroom and became suspicious.
The device the contractor found looked like a black cube with a USB charger, but also was equipped with a video recorder, Kedley said.
The contractor took it home and discovered it held surreptitious videos of naked boys.
Investigators said they determined Stephen stayed in regular communication with the players, who ranged in age from fifth-graders to high schoolers under 18, and frequently shared hotel rooms and beds with them. Kedley said Stephen hosted get-togethers and “sleepovers” with players, usually the night before the teens and he would travel to basketball tournaments.
During a Feb. 22 interview, Kedley said Stephen admitted to having the recording device for two to three years.
Stephen told Kedley the video of the three naked boys — the recording he is being charged with — was taken in a Chicago hotel room during a January trip to see the Chicago Bulls game.
Another video showed a fourth player, who recently was identified as a 13-year-old, that Stephen told investigators had been taken Feb. 9 or 10 in an Ankeny hotel room.
Initially, Stephen said he was recording the teens to observe their development, Kedley testified. He later admitted to having “sexual curiosity” and possibly being aroused. But Stephen denied making any sexual advances to the teens or touching them in a sexual manner.
Kedley said Stephen denied having additional recording devices, but investigators found four “covert” devices in his Monticello house. One of those appeared to be a plastic mountable towel hook, but actually was a camera with a USB port.
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In a search of Stephen’s Delhi cabin, investigators found a device in a bathroom that looked like a smoke detector above the toilet — but was actually a camera, Kedley said.
Forensic analyses still are being conducted.
Three former Barnstormers players recently have come forward, Kedley said, saying Stephen touched them in separate incidents during the mid-2000s,
Each gave the same scenario about waking up in the middle of the night to Stephen touching their buttocks. One said he was warned by another before the trip about sharing a bed with Stephen, Kedley said.
Stephen has not been charged with any of those incidents. If convicted of the existing charge, Stephen would face between five and 20 year in prison.
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