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Iowa youth basketball coach caught with hundreds of photos of nude minor boys loses appeal of life sentence

This news story was published on January 4, 2021.
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ST. LOUIS – An Iowa youth basketball coach caught with hundreds of photos of nude minor boys has lost his appeal of a life sentence.

In 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Iowa man Gregory Stephen on five counts of sexually exploiting a child, one count of possessing child pornography, and one count of transporting child pornography. Stephen moved to suppress evidence of those offenses. The district court denied Stephen’s motion, finding no Fourth Amendment violations. Afterward, Stephen conditionally pleaded guilty to all counts, preserving his right to appeal the suppression denial. The district court sentenced Stephen to 2,160 months’ imprisonment.

Court records say that Stephen’s crimes were discovered by a former family member. While remodeling one of Appellant Gregory Stephen’s homes, Vaughn Ellison discovered a hidden camera containing child pornography. Subsequent searches of Stephen’s homes by law enforcement uncovered further child pornography and images of Stephen abusing children. A federal grand jury indicted Stephen for sexually exploiting children as well as possessing and transporting child pornography. Stephen moved to suppress evidence related to these charges, arguing Fourth Amendment violations, which the district court1 denied. Stephen conditionally pleaded guilty, and the district court sentenced him to 2,160 months’ imprisonment. Stephen appeals, challenging both the suppression denial and his sentence. For the following reasons, the court affirmed Stephens’ outcome.

On February 15, 2018, Ellison was remodeling his friend and former brother- in-law Stephen’s house. While using the bathroom, Ellison noticed a USB drive on the toilet tank. Because Ellison had recently researched hidden recording devices following a break-in, Ellison recognized the USB as a hidden camera. Curious and concerned as to why there was a hidden camera in the bathroom—and what it had recorded—Ellison took the USB home but did not view its contents.

The next morning, Ellison returned to Stephen’s home and discovered a young boy sleeping in the bedroom next to the bathroom where Ellison had found the USB. Ellison worried the boy would have used that bathroom. Stephen (a youth basketball coach) arrived shortly after with another boy, indicating he was taking them both to a basketball game. After returning home, Ellison viewed the USB’s contents, finding at least fifty videos depicting children secretly recorded in various stages of undress. The following evening, Ellison discussed what he had seen and what he should do with his girlfriend, ultimately deciding to contact law enforcement.

On February 18, three days after Ellison took the USB and two days after viewing its contents, Ellison contacted Monticello Police Chief Britt Smith, and the two discussed what Ellison had found. Chief Smith asked Ellison to give him the USB, and the next day Ellison dropped off the USB at the Monticello Police Department. Chief Smith then sought the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s (the “DCI”) assistance.

Two days later, the DCI took possession of the USB, obtained a search warrant for the device, and viewed its contents. After obtaining a search warrant, law enforcement searched Stephen’s homes. Therein, they found more secret recording devices and a hard drive containing approximately 400 visual depictions of nude minor boys, including some images of Stephen molesting unconscious victims.


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4 Responses to Iowa youth basketball coach caught with hundreds of photos of nude minor boys loses appeal of life sentence

  1. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 6, 2021 at 11:40 am

    I always wondered what happened to stone cold Steve Austin…

  2. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 5, 2021 at 7:41 am

    he must be a catlicker.

  3. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 5, 2021 at 12:48 am

    put him in cell OI8I2 with Bubba

  4. Anonymous Reply Report comment

    January 4, 2021 at 9:54 pm

    He needs to stay lock up and off the streets for life.