Greg Stephen coach who exploited 400 boys sentenced to 180 years.
A judge on Thursday sentenced a former elite youth basketball coach to 180 years in prison for sexually exploiting hundreds of boys over a decade.
Greg Stephen, 43, admitted that he secretly recorded more than 400 players showering during trips and in the bathrooms at his homes. He also admitted posing 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.
The sentence, handed down in federal court in Cedar Rapids, caps one of Iowa’s biggest and most stunning sexual abuse prosecutions involving youth sports.
During the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams said Stephen is “a hands-on sexual abuser of children” who “exploited, manipulated and abused children for almost two decades,” adding that his actions were “horrendous.”
Stephen pleaded guilty in October 2018 to multiple counts of child sexual exploitation and pornography charges.
Federal prosecutors had asked a judge to sentence him to the maximum possible penalty of 180 years behind bars, based on the nature of the offense, the harm that Stephen had caused and the level of danger.
Stephen’s defense team had asked for 20 years in prison, followed by 15 years of supervision.
The abuse happened during Stephen’s tenure as an elite youth basketball coach for the Iowa Barnstormers basketball program, which he founded in 2005.
The Barnstormers are based out of North Liberty. It operates youth basketball teams for athletes from fourth through 12th grades.
Stephen “exploited boys who looked up to him as a coach and mentor,” U.S. Attorney Marc Krickbaum said. “He had power over these kids, and he exploited that power. The sentence imposed today reflects the enormity of his crimes.”
“He has robbed so many of these children of their innocence,” said Guy Cook, who represents many of the victims in a growing class-action lawsuit that aims to hold the Iowa Barnstorms and AAU accountable.
Cook said the rules prohibiting coaches and athletes to sleep in the same room were not enforced. The civil suit could take more than a year to go through the court system, but Cook said Thursday’s prison sentencing is significant because it shows how seriously a federal judge took the case.
Stephen lived in Monticello, where his former brother-in-law found a recording device in the home containing video of boys showering in a hotel.
Investigators seized electronic devices that had 440 folders with the names of different boys, each containing at least one explicit photo or video of their genitals.
The discovery shocked the basketball community in Iowa, where several of Stephen’s former players have earned scholarships to play Division 1 college basketball.