Des Moines, Iowa
Many of the 400 boys who were sexually exploited by an Iowa basketball coach are only learning now what happened to them months or years ago and some have still yet to be identified or contacted, an investigator said Monday.
The victims of former Iowa Barnstormers coach Greg Stephen vary widely in age and location, and trying to reach them has been a “massive undertaking” that has involved state and federal investigators, Division of Criminal Investigation agent Ryan Kedley said.
Stephen’s guilty pleas last week to child sexual exploitation and child pornography charges don’t signal that the case is over, Kedley said. Anyone who may have been victimized and wishes to speak to investigators about Stephen can contact his office, he said.
In a plea agreement, Stephen acknowledged that he secretly recorded players showering during trips and in the bathrooms at his homes, posed as a girl on social media to trick boys into sending him sexually explicit images of themselves and recorded himself fondling some boys while they slept.
“We all view this as a cautionary tale on making sure you know who you can trust with your children when it comes to these kinds of circumstances with amateur athletics,” Kedley told the Associated Press. “It’s extremely unfortunate we’ve gotten to this point in this particular case and this many people have been victimized.”
Stephen, 42, faces 15 to 180 years in prison when he is sentenced. A sentencing date hasn’t been set, but it is expected to happen in a couple of months.
The case started in February, when Stephen’s former brother-in-law, Vaughn Ellison, discovered a hidden recording device while performing contracting work at Stephen’s home in Monticello, where Stephen and his father own a local car dealership.
Concerned that it might be used to record visitors using the bathroom, Ellison took it and reviewed its contents. He turned the device over to the Monticello Police Department after seeing that it contained videos of boys showering in hotel bathrooms.
The department soon asked for assistance from the DCI’s internet crimes against children unit, to which Kedley is assigned.
During searches of Stephen’s home and lake house in nearby Delhi, investigators seized additional recording devices and a hard drive that included 400 folders with the names of different boys. Each had at least one type of explicit photo or video of their genitals, while some included many different types.
Kedley said the case soon became one of the largest of its kind in Iowa history, and FBI agents assisted in identifying, contacting and interviewing victims.
The agreement suggests that Stephen’s conduct may date to his time coaching another youth team called the Mavericks, a program that merged to form the Barnstormers in 2005. His exploitation of players, their friends and other youth athletes continued until early 2018.
The Barnstormers program has teams for students in elementary through high school, and the victims mentioned in the plea agreement ranged in age from 11 to 17. Barnstormers travel the country playing in Amateur Athletic Union tournaments and many go on to play college basketball.
Kedley said that to his knowledge, no one had ever contacted police to report misconduct by Stephen, who was known as a fun and dedicated coach who took kids to NBA games and tournaments in places like Las Vegas and hosted gatherings at his lake house.