Public Safety

Iowa investigator receives national service award for work on largest sex exploitation case, involving former youth basketball coach

From left, Investigative Operations Director Kevin Winter, Special Agent Ryan Kedley, U.S. Attorney of Southern District
From left, Investigative Operations Director Kevin Winter, Special Agent Ryan Kedley, U.S. Attorney of Southern District of Iowa Marc Krickbaum and DPS Commissioner Stephan Bayens. (Iowa Department of Public Safety)
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DES MOINES — The U.S. Attorney General’s Office on Friday presented the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing to Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Ryan Kedley, for his work on the largest sexual exploitation case in the state.

Kedley, a member of DCI’s Major Crime Unit, is one of only four investigators and detectives nationwide selected and recognized for exceptional work in criminal investigations, according to an Iowa Department of Public Safety news release.

Kedley is likely the first public safety employee to ever receive this “prestigious national distinction,” the department stated. Kedley’s team discovered that for nearly 20 years, former Barnstormers youth basketball coach Greg Stephen, 44, of Monticello, had been secretly stockpiling child pornography — thousands of videos and photos of his players and their friends, who were secretly taped by Stephen, mostly during hotel stays for basketball trips and at his homes.

Investigators determined the coach had sexually assaulted at least 15 teens and victimized another 400, although they believe the actual numbers could be much higher, according to court testimony.

Stephen pleaded in U.S. District Court in October 2019 to five counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of possession of child pornography and transportation of pornography.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams, at a hearing last May, said he was sentencing Stephen 180 years in federal prison for “repeatedly sexually abusing children” from 1999 to February 2018, when he was arrested.

Williams also pointed out Stephen abused 440 victims by covertly taping naked teens — filming in and out of the shower at his homes and in hotel rooms, posing as young girls to receive explicit photos and videos, and touching the teens while they slept.

Kedley, during the sentencing, testified it was a challenging investigation to identify the victims and interview them and their parents. Some declined to talk to investigators. This investigation was traumatic for the victims and their parents, he said, because they had to watch videos and hear the teens talk about being touched and sending explicit photos of themselves to “girls” — when Stephen posed as the girls on the internet.

This award recognizes the “exceptional work” by state, local, and tribal sworn rank-and-file police officers and deputies, according to the department.

Kedley, a native of Lowden, is a 13-year veteran with DCI. He graduated as a member of the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s 33rd Basic Academy in 2007 and began his career assigned to the DCI’s Special Enforcement Operations Bureau in Clinton.

In 2013, Kedley accepted a special assignment to work within the DCI’s Special Investigations Unit. Over the past six years, he has been assigned to the Major Crime Unit.

Throughout the course of his career, Kedley has acted as the lead agent or assisting agent in several homicide investigations, suspicious death investigations, sexual assault investigations, as well as large-scale child exploitation investigations, according to the department.

“These individuals are distinguished in their service for field operations and criminal investigations — from investigating homicides to drug trafficking to sexual exploitation and assault — to making positive change in their communities through innovative outreach to local residents,” U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said during Friday’s ceremony.

Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan Bayens said Kedley’s “relentless dedication to protecting the most vulnerable among us while bringing to justice those responsible for preying upon our community exemplifies the core mission of the Department of Public Safety. He is incredibly deserving of the award bestowed upon him and we are extremely proud to have him within our ranks.”

This year, the Attorney General’s Office received 214 nominations recognizing a 355 individual officers, deputies, and troopers. There were 39 states represented in the nomination pool, covering state, local, campus, sheriff, and other agencies. Kedley was among the 23 who were honored from that pool.

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

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