A 52-year-old Jesup man 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, Stephen Keating sexually molested three children to create pictures and videos of that conduct. Keating then distributed a number of the images, which were discovered in September during the arrest of a sex offender in Denmark.
The charges against 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 Office of Field Operations in Savannah, CBP Air and Marine Operations in Jacksonville, Fla., 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," U.S. Attorney Edward Tarver said. "This defendant exploited the most vulnerable members of our society, our children. Swift, aggressive prosecution of child predators is the highest priority for the Department of Justice and this United States Attorney's Office."
Each count of sexual exploitation of a minor to which Keating pleaded guilty 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 five 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. The date for his sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.