Between 1999 and 2018, Greg Stephen, 43, sexually exploited and abused 440 boys under his care at the Barnstormers athletics team, in Iowa
An influential youth basketball coach was jailed for the rest of his life on Thursday after it was discovered he’d sexually exploited or manipulated 440 boys over the period of two decades.
Greg Stephen, 43, was sentenced to 180 years in federal prison yesterday, by US District Judge C.J Williams, who opted for the maximum possible sentence.
Williams called the shamed coach’s actions horrendous, remarking that he ‘manipulated and abused children for almost two decades’, exploiting his position of trust to prey upon his victims who saw him as biggest hope for college basketball glory.
‘The harm the defendant caused to the children is incalculable and profound,’ Williams said from the bench in federal court in Cedar Rapids.
Williams added that his crimes were ‘of such an extreme nature’ that they warranted an effective life term.
The staggering near two-century sentence capped off one of Iowa’s largest and most shocking sexual abuse cases in the state’s history.
Stephen co-founded the Barnstormers, an elite Basketball team who competed nationally and were sponsored by Adidas.
Greg Stephen, 43, was sentenced to 180 years in federal prison yesterday, by US District Judge C.J Williams, who opted for the maximum possible sentence
One student said Stephen had masturbated next to him in a Las Vegas hotel room, but he was too scared to report it through fear of jeopardizing his college basketball aspirations
Working as a coach and director for the program, nearly all high school seniors enrolled in the team went on to earn college sporting scholarships. The Barnstormers had both boys and girls teams, with the youngest members being in fourth grade.
But beneath his coaching successes and accolades, Stephen hid a dark and vile secret.
Stored on a hard drive later handed in to authorities, the 43-year-old amassed a digital archive of sexual videos and photos of his players and their friends.
The majority of the images were obtained by Stephen as he posed as a young girl on Facebook and Snapchat, coercing his players to film themselves performing sex acts with the promise of returning the favor.
One of his victims was said to have been so cunningly tricked by the predatory coach, he shared a relationship with one of Stephen’s female personas for seven years.
In some cases, the images were ‘homemade’. Travelling regularly with the players for national competitions – often insisting on sharing a bed with them – Stephen would wait until the middle of the night to fondle and photograph his sleeping victims.
One photo showed Stephen next to a boy sleeping on a bed. Holding the camera at arm’s length in one hand, he held the boy’s penis in his other ‘positioning it inches from his mouth’.
The victim later recalled Stephen had given him medication that night that made him drowsy.