DETROIT - A Michigan man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for his role in the sexual exploitation of several children around the country following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Steven Demink, 41, of Redford, Mich., was indicted by a federal grand jury in November on 13 counts related to child exploitation. He pleaded guilty to the charges in February 2011.
The investigation revealed Demink used a fictitious character named Dalton St. Clair, whom he described as a trained psychologist and single father of a 14-year-old girl. Using the St. Clair persona, Demink targeted single mothers on a dating website. Demink befriended several mothers during an 18-month period of time that stretched from 2009 to 2010.
"Demink's manipulative and predatory actions give new meaning to the word depravity. Demink stole the innocence from these children in the most harmful of ways by orchestrating the mothers to be the instrument of their sexual abuse," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Detroit. "Unfortunately, even this significant sentence cannot give these children back their innocence, but it should serve as a stark warning to others like Demink. HSI and our partners will be relentless in our pursuit of those who prey on our kids."
"This sentence reflects the outrageous harm this predator inflicted on innocent children," U. S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said. "In some ways, the defendant has already imposed a life sentence on them."
Demink, relying on St. Clair's alleged psychological training, convinced seven mothers to commit sexual acts on their children. These sexual acts were part of a "re-training" of the children. According to court documents, the mothers and their children were from all over the country, and the victims were between 3 and 15 years old. Victims included both boys and girls.
Demink pleaded guilty to counts related to mothers from Virginia, Idaho and Florida. He agreed that the judge may consider conduct related to the children in his sentencing. Charges were also filed against several of the seven mothers. In addition to Demink, two of the mothers have already pleaded guilty to their crimes.
McQuade praised the work of the HSI Special Agent Ted Wolters and Victim Witness Coordinator Amy Allen, who traveled around the country to coordinate the investigation and charges against the mothers and the rescuing of 12 children. She noted that the agents worked tirelessly investigating this case, which spanned from Idaho to Florida to Virginia.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin M. Mulcahy and Hala Jarbou are prosecuting the case.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. Investigators staff the hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.