A Lumberton man has been sentenced to 40 years in federal prison for child pornography violations in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston on Thursday.
Stephen John Pieper, 26, pleaded guilty on Dec. 9, 2021, to three counts of production of child pornography and was sentenced to 480 months in federal prison today by 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. There is evidence that Pieper engaged in sexual activity with at least 11 other minor girls. Pieper was indicted by a federal grand jury on April 7, 2021.
“If this press release does not stop you in your tracks, something is wrong,” said U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston. “26-year-old Pieper will spend the next 40 years in federal prison for the evil crimes he committed. We must all takes steps to protect our most vulnerable population and keep an eye out for child sex abuse. It is our responsibility as citizens, parents, friends and family members to report abuse when it is suspected. The failure to do so is reprehensible.”
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 was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Texas Attorney General’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Grove.