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Plea Agreement Reveals Extent of Youth Coach's Abuse

Paul Steinbach

A plea agreement filed Thursday in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, revealed that a prominent youth basketball coach had engaged in the exploitation and physical abuse of hundreds of boys over several years, the Associated Press reports.

Greg Stephen, 42, was a coach and co-director of the Iowa Barnstormers, an Adidas-sponsored traveling program that has produced several Division I college basketball players, since 2008. The program serves boys ages 9 through 17. Stephen preyed upon former players, their friends and other athletes. A hard drive containing folders named for 400 different boys, each containing explicit photos and videos, was discovered after police were tipped off in February by Stephen's brother-in-law, who discovered a recording device while remodeling a bathroom at Stephen's residence. Stephen used devices intended to look like a towel hook or a smoke detector to secretly record boys showering in his home, in his lake cabin and in hotel rooms while the Barnstormers traveled to American Athletic Union tournaments or NBA games.

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Following his arrest in March, Stephens' attorneys argued that the evidence should be suppressed since it was obtained through the brother-in-law's unlawful seizure of the device, but a judge rejected that argument earlier this month. In addition, Stephens offered the excuse that the videos were compiled to track players' physical development, but the eventual plea agreement admits he "committed sexual acts and sexual contact" on an unspecified number of boys. These acts included recording players while they slept with their pants pulled down, while Stephens touched the boys with his hands and in at least one instance his mouth. In one case, Stephens allegedly had given an 11- or 12-year-old boy medication that made the boy drowsy in advance of Stephen's abuse.

When not traveling with the players, Stephens would pose as girls to coerce the boys to share photos and videos of themselves masturbating.

According to the AP, Stephen faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 180 at sentencing, which hasn’t been scheduled. He has been in custody since his arrest and will remain jailed pending sentencing. The agreement notes that the potential sentence he faces will be lengthened due to the number and age of victims, the fact that he engaged in sexual acts and contact with multiple boys, and that he had supervisory control over them.

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