Former Kindergarten Teacher Heads to Prison for Sexually Exploiting Children
|Dec. 17, 2013|
HOUSTON - Stephen Wayne Sudduth, 38, of Sealy, has been ordered to prison for 30 years following his convictions on two counts of production of child pornography, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Sudduth entered a plea of guilty Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.
The charges against Sudduth arose as a result of an international investigation conducted by members of the Houston office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the office of the Caribbean Attache for Homeland Security, 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.
Today, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas handed Sudduth a 360-month sentence for each of the two convictions which will be served concurrently. Sudduth received credit for the more than three years he has been in federal custody. Additional information was also presented today, including copies of some of the images and a written victim impact statement from the mother of one victim. Additionally, the mother of a second victim came to court and provided a statement. Sudduth was further ordered to pay restitution to the two victims and will serve 25 years of supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he will have to participate in counseling, have no contact with minors under the age of 18 and very limited access to computers and the Internet. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.
The federal sentence will also run concurrently with a 60-year sentence Sudduth received in August 2013 for promotion of child pornography in Austin County.
The investigation began in 2009 when the Texas Attorney General’s Office received a tip concerning Sudduth. A state search warrant for Sudduth’s residence in Sealy was secured and later executed on July 14, 2009. At that time, officers seized a laptop computer and two external hard drives which all were found to contain child pornography.
During the review of the images, officers observed images that contained Sudduth and images that appeared to have been taken in a classroom. They were able to confirm the classroom was at a school in Curacao and that Sudduth taught kindergarten at that school. Houston HSI agents were then contacted to handle the international aspect of the investigation.
Still images of young girls that constituted child pornography were located and found to have been taken with a digital camera.
In December 2009 and May 2010, HSI agents and a forensic child interviewer traveled to Curacao and were able to identify and interview the children depicted in the images.
Sudduth has been in custody where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
This case, prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Stabe, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."