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May 9, 2023Los Angeles, CA, United StatesChild Exploitation

HSI investigation results in 40-year sentence for Southern California woman

She was convicted of producing child sexual abuse material, including material involving an infant

LOS ANGELES — A Southern California woman was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison May 9 for committing child sexual abuse material crimes, including obtaining custody of an infant for the purpose of producing sexually explicit videos.

Stefani Kasey Marie Stevens, 31, of Yucaipa, California was sentenced by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. A restitution hearing is scheduled for July 31. Stevens will be placed on supervised release for the rest of her life upon her release from prison.

The sentence was announced by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.

“Individuals that victimize innocent children will be aggressively pursued and held accountable for the heinous offenses they commit,” said HSI Los Angeles acting Special Agent in Charge Eddy Wang. “This case and its prosecution should send a clear message: If you come after children, HSI and our partners will come after you.”

After a four-day bench trial in November 2022, Judge Virginia A. Phillips found Stevens guilty of one count of obtaining custody of a minor with intent to produce child pornography, six counts of production of child pornography, one count of distribution of child pornography, and one count of possession of child pornography.

From August 2019 to November 2019, law enforcement received information that two Kik accounts, which authorities later found to be associated with Stevens, uploaded child sexual abuse material. Law enforcement officials also determined a Google account associated with Stevens had uploaded seven sexually explicit images of the same victim, who was under the age of 12.

In November 2019, HSI special agents executed a search warrant at Stevens’ home. During interviews, Stevens admitted to making sexually explicit videos of herself performing oral sex on the infant victim and that she took eight to 10 nude photographs with a second victim under the age of 12.

Following the interviews, HSI accessed Stevens’ online accounts and learned that, the day before creating the sexually explicit videos of the infant in May 2019, Stevens and a like-minded user had online discussions about how Stevens was excited to take custody of the infant the next day so that she could create videos of herself engaging in sexual activity with him.

HSI agents also learned that, in addition to the sexually explicit videos of the infant created in May 2019, Stevens took sexually explicit photographs of the infant in June 2019 and of a second victim under the age of 12 in October and November 2018, all of which she stored in an online account, along with hundreds of other child pornography images and videos.

“This defendant has been punished for acting out her vile sexual fantasies on two children — one of them an infant,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada. “Sexual exploitation of children is intolerable, and my office will aggressively prosecute these horrific crimes. Today’s significant sentence is yet another example of my office’s determination to hold accountable those criminals whose abhorrent conduct causes immeasurable trauma upon those who are among the most vulnerable people in our district.”

“The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department appreciates the work of all the investigators and prosecuting attorneys who worked on behalf of the victims to obtain justice,” said the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in a statement. “Anyone who suspects a child is being victimized is urged to contact their local law enforcement agency or child protective services.”

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Trisotto of the District of Oregon and Assistant United States Attorney Sonah Lee of the Riverside Branch Office prosecuted this case with Phillips presiding.

Members of the public are urged to report suspected instances of child sex trafficking through the HSI Tip Line at 866-DHS-2423 (866-347-2423). The HSI Tip Line is manned 24 hours a day.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI’s mission to eradicate child exploitation in your community on Twitter @HSILosAngeles.