Public Safety

Former Iowa Barnstormers AAU basketball coach admits to taking part in child porn schemes

Greg Stephen secretly recorded teens, tricked boys online

CEDAR RAPIDS — A former youth basketball coach pleaded guilty Thursday to seven pornography counts over videotaping naked teenage players, admitting in a new revelation that he posed as girls online to persuade boys to provide him explicit images.

Greg Stephen, 42, a former Barnstormers coach from Monticello, face up to 180 years in prison if a judge at a later hearing decides to run the terms back to back.

After several unsuccessful attempts from his attorneys to get videotaped evidence dismissed, Stephen pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to five counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count each of possession of child pornography and transportation of child pornography.

The plea, filed after a hearing Thursday, provides details of the sexually explicit videos he took of the boys and other details of the investigation, including Stephen posing as teen girls on social media to persuade teen boys to provide explicit videos and images to him.

Stephen, in the plea, admitted to engaging in sexually explicit conduct to produce videos with five former basketball players under the age of 18. “Victim 1” was 14 or 15 years old between 2011 and 2012; “Victim 2” was 14 to 17 years old between 2010 and 2013; “Victim 3” was 11 to 12 years old between 2011 and 2012; “Victim 4” was 13 or 14 years old in 2012; and “Victim 5” was 15 between 2012 and 2013.

According to the plea agreement, Stephen persuaded four of the boys to provide explicit images or videos but had no physical contact with them. He did have physical contact with Victim 3, who traveled to tournaments and games with Stephen on several occasions and went to Stephen’s cabin in Delhi.

Stephen also admitted in the plea to possessing child pornography and to transporting an external hard drive that contained videos or images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct. He said he carried the device across state lines from Illinois to Iowa.

Stephen, without hesitation, admitted to the charges. His family didn’t attend the hearing.

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U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams told him he faces a mandatory 15 years in prison, and up to 30 years on each sexual exploitation charge, up to 10 years for possession and up to 20 years for transportation of child pornography. Stephen also faces up to $250,000 in fines and $5,000 in special fees on each charge.

Williams also warned Stephen that the maximum punishment could be 180 years if the sentences were run consecutively and that he would be ordered to pay up to a $1.7 million fine and special assessment fees of $35,000.

Stephen may also have to pay restitution to his victims, which will be determined at sentencing.

The plea revealed details of the investigation.

On Feb. 21, authorities found videos on a USB device taken from Stephen’s hidden camera that he used to record several naked players in a hotel room in Lombard, Ill., and Ankeny. Stephen invited the boys to attend games or play in tournaments and placed the recording device in their hotel bathrooms, pointed toward the shower. None of the boys knew they were being recorded, the plea states.

Authorities searched Stephen’s two residences, the plea shows.

At his Monticello home, they seized 11 electronic devices from Stephen’s office. They also recovered three covert recording devices similar in style to the one used in Illinois and Ankeny, along with a recording device designed to look like a mountable bath towel hook.

At the Delhi home, authorities seized 22 electronic devices, including a covert recording device that looked like a smoke detector. The mounting for the device was found directly above the toilet.

According to the plea, authorities said Stephen had access to minors from ages 9 to 17 as far back as 2008 through basketball programs of Barnstormers, Mavericks and other teams. Through his coaching or administrative duties, Stephen also had personal information on many of the minors and some of their friends.

He also traveled to various sporting events with the boys and many times had them stay in hotels rooms with him and sleep in the same bed, the plea stated.

One of the recovered hard drives showed more than 400 electronic file folders with titles of the different minors’ names, with about 400 containing sexually explicit conduct. The victims were basketball players and their friends from as recently as 2018, and former basketball players and their friends from past seasons going back several years. They also included minors involved in other sports, the plea shows.

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There also was a folder with teen girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct, which Stephen used to set up Facebook and Snapchat profiles to contact teen boys, according to the plea.

Once contact was made, Stephen used the female personas to entice the boys into providing him with sexually explicit images.

The Barnstormers, of the Amateur Athletic Union, includes some of the top youth basketball players in the state. The organization cut ties with Stephen when the investigation became public in February. Stephen was arrested in March and remains jailed.

A sentencing date will be set after a presentencing report is prepared.

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

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