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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

Sept. 16, 2010

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

FORMER KINDERGARTEN TEACHER INDICTED FOR SEXUALLY EXPLOITING SCHOOL CHILDREN IN CURACAO

(HOUSTON) - A federal grand jury has charged a former kindergarten teacher at the International School of Curacao with molesting children at the school and taking pornographic photographsof some of the children, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) acting Special Agent in Charge John Connolly announced today.

Stephen Wayne Sudduth, 35, of Sealy, Texas, is charged in a seven-count indictment returned by a Houston grand jury on Sept. 15, 2010, with engaging in illicit sexual conduct with his students in a foreign country, production of child pornography, transportation of child pornography and possession of child pornography.

Sudduth has been in state custody in Austin County on state charges since his July 2009 arrest by officers with the Texas Attorney General’s Office Cybercrime Unit. He is pending transfer into federal custody to face the federal charges filed today.

The international investigation leading to the federal charges against Sudduth was conducted by special agents of the Houston office of ICE-HSI and the ICE-HSI Caribbean Attache, an ICE-HSI headquarters forensic child interviewer, the Texas Attorney General’s Cybercrime Unit, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Curacao, a special task force unit in Curacao comprised of Dutch and local law enforcement officers and the equivalent of the juvenile sex crimes unit of the Curacao Police Corps.

According to allegations in the indictment, Sudduth was hired as a teacher in August 2006 by the International School of Curacao in Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. The private school has a K-3 (three-year-old) to 12th grade student population. For school years 2006 – 2007 and 2007 – 2008, Sudduth taught K-4 (four-year-olds) and in 2008 – 2009 taught K-5 (five-year-olds) as well as provided tutoring and babysitting services after-school to these children.

Sudduth is accused in two counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with his students from August 2007 through June 2009. The indictment also accuses him of three counts of sexually exploiting his students by using, persuading, inducing, enticing and coercing the students to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of sexually explicit conduct, as well as transporting the visual depictions in interstate and foreign commerce and possessing video and still images of child pornography obtained via the Internet on a computer.  
 
Sudduth faces a sentence of up to 30 years imprisonment if convicted of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country and a minimum of 15 years up to 30 years imprisonment if convicted of production of child pornography. Transportation of child pornography carries a minimum of five years up to a maximum of 20 years imprisonment upon conviction while possession of child pornography carries a maximum of 10 years incarceration. All charges also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 as possible punishment. If convicted of any of the charged offenses, upon completion of any prison term imposed, Sudduth also faces a maximum life term of supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe is prosecuting the case.    

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