Chicopee Man Sentenced to Seven Years in Federal Prison for Child Pornography Offenses
BOSTON – A Chicopee man was sentenced today in federal court in Springfield for receiving child pornography.
Victor Stepus, 51, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to seven years in prison and 10 years of supervised release. In November 2019, Stepus pleaded guilty to three counts of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. Stepus has been in custody since his arrest in August 2015.
The investigation that led to the charges against Stepus began with the discovery of Playpen, a secret child pornography bulletin board and website dedicated to the advertisement and distribution of child pornography and the discussion of matters involving the sexual abuse of children. Playpen existed on the “dark web,” and enabled allowed users, on an anonymous basis, to access the site. When investigators obtained logs from the Playpen site, they found that Stepus had been an active user during a six-month period during 2014 and 2015.
A search of Stepus’s residence resulted in the seizure of a personal computer that contained over 8,000 images and 33 videos of child pornography. These included images depicting the sexual abuse, including bondage, of girls as young as eight years old. Stepus admitted that for the past several years he used his home computer to access and download child pornography two to three times per week.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Chicopee Police Chief William R. Jebb made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex J. Grant of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
The case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.