CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Two defendants pleaded guilty yesterday to child pornography crimes, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Steven Lee Rhodes, 39, of Clendenin, pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography. In a separate prosecution, Kenneth Frederick Stier, 29, of Spencer, entered his guilty plea to distributing child pornography.
Rhodes admitted that on June 4, 2015, he received a video of a prepubescent minor engaged in sex acts. The video was received on Rhodes’ computer, which was located at his residence in Clendenin. The investigation revealed that Rhodes was using a peer-to-peer file sharing program to download, receive, and distribute child pornography images and videos. Rhodes admitted that he possessed over 600 images and videos of minors engaged in sex acts.
In a separate prosecution, Stier admitted that on December 13, 2016, he distributed two videos of prepubescent minors engaged in sex acts. An undercover law enforcement operation revealed that Stier distributed the videos using a messenger application on his cell phone. Stier also admitted to distributing child pornography videos on another occasion, and to possessing over 600 images and videos depicting child pornography.
Rhodes and Stier both face at least five and up to 20 years in federal prison when they are sentenced, as well as a term of federal supervised release of at least five years and up to life. Rhodes is scheduled to be sentenced on November 14, 2017. Stier is scheduled for sentencing on November 13, 2017. Upon release from federal prison, both Rhodes and Stier will be required to register as sex offenders.
“The penalties for endangering children with sexual predatory behavior are significant, and those who abuse the most vulnerable will pay a heavy price,” said United States Attorney Carol Casto. “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively prosecute those who exploit the children of our communities.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Parkersburg Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives conducted the investigations. The Roane County Sheriff’s Office also investigated the Stier case. Assistant United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston is in charge of these prosecutions.
The plea hearing for Rhodes was held before United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. The plea hearing for Stier was held before United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.
These cases were brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Southern District of West Virginia