Hardin County man guilty of child pornography charges

A Lumberton man has pleaded guilty to federal child pornography violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston today.

Stephen John Pieper, 23, pleaded guilty to three counts of production of child pornography today before U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone.

According to court documents, an investigation into claims that Pieper had sexually exploited teen girls revealed Pieper had engaged in sexual activity with three victims, aged 15 and 16-years old.  As part of the sexual contact with the victims, Pieper used his own cellular phone to record the minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. 

Pieper admitted to uploading the videos and images he captured of the victims into Snapchat accounts.  Pieper’s exploitation of the three victims spanned 2016 through 2018, during which time Pieper was an adult who was more than 5 years older than his victims.

Pieper was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 7, 2021.  He faces a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison.  The maximum statutory sentence prescribed by Congress is provided here for information purposes, as the sentencing will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.  A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. 

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Texas Attorney General’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Grove.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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