Stephan Keating, of Jesup, pleaded guilty Tuesday to three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in relation to his production of numerous images of child pornography, and one count of distribution of child pornography.
Evidence presented at the guilty plea hearing showed that on numerous occasions in 2010 and 2011, Keating sexually molested three minor children in order to create pictures and videos of that conduct, then distributed a number of the images, which were discovered in September 2012 during the arrest of a sex offender in Denmark.
The charges against 52-year-old Keating arose from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations , with assistance from INTERPOL, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in Savannah and Jacksonville, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.
“No child should be subjected to sexual abuse and, certainly, no child should have to live with the knowledge that the abuse was captured on film for redistribution to other like-minded predators," said United States Attorney Edward Tarver. "This defendant exploited the most vulnerable members of our society, our children."
“To victimize the innocent in the manner that this child predator has pleaded guilty to is one of the most revolting crimes in our society," said Brock D. Nicholson, special agent in charge of ICE in Atlanta. “Special agents will not rest until each and every child victim of sexual exploitation is rescued and defendants like Keating are behind bars.”
Each count of sexual exploitation of a minor carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Keating also faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for distribution of child pornography. If released from prison, Keating will be required to register as a sex offender.
Chief United States District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood has not yet set a date for Keating’s sentencing hearing.