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Man who produced pornography at daycare gets prison | News

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Man who produced pornography at daycare gets prison

LOWELL, Mich. (WZZM) - A young man who made pornographic videos of children at his mother's Lowell-area daycare center will spend the next 30 years in prison.

A federal judge in Kalamazoo today sentenced Travis Charles Stiehl, 23, to the maximum term possible for sexual exploitation of a child. He admitted to taking lascivious photos of nude children as young as two-years-old.

At the time of his arrest, he had about 2,000 images and videos of child pornography. Stiehl took nude videos at a home on Foreman Street west of Cumberland Avenue SE in Lowell Township, where his mother operated a licensed daycare.

Six days after police interviewed Stiehl in December, the day care was shut down.

Stiehl was charged with eight counts of sexual exploitation of a child between Sept. 2011 and Aug. 2013, court records show.

The charges include taking photos of a nude three-year-old boy touching his private area in a lascivious manner. He is also accused of removing a boy's diaper and taking nude photos of the child and taking images of a two-year-old while changing his diaper at the daycare.

The original charges, filed in Kent County, were dismissed after a federal grand jury indicted Stiehl in May. He pleaded guilty Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids to sexual exploitation of a child.

The children assaulted were ages two, three and nine, court records show. Stiehl admitted to taking images of prepubescent boys changing clothes and exposing themselves in a lascivious manner, telling investigators "child pornography is a curiosity.''

Federal authorities in August, 2013 were looking into a foreign-based image hosting website which led them to an account maintained by Stiehl.

His mother consented to a search of her laptop and a computer in the basement, federal court records show. Evidence of child pornography were found on the laptop and additional images were found on a thumb drive.

Stiehl describes himself as an outgoing, social person and a "friendly, caring and hardworking individual.'' He attended Lincoln College of Technology and earned a degree in automotive technology.

He was working at an automobile parts store on Alpine Avenue NW at the time of his arrest. In a letter to the court, Stiehl says he is ashamed of himself.

"I have caused so many people that I considered family pain that no one should ever have to endure,'' he wrote the court. "I wish I could go back and change the things I've done, but all I can do now is own up to my actions and take responsibility for them.

"I am ashamed of myself for ever having considered what I have done,'' he wrote. "As a result of what I've done, my mother lost her job, Ever since my father passed away, my mother and I have struggled to survive and make a living together.''

His mother, Shelley Stiehl, wrote federal judge Paul L. Maloney that the loss of her son "is like losing my right arm.''

"He wants to have a strong comeback in life, possibly owning his own business,'' she wrote the judge. "He seems very determined to shape his life into doing something good and paying back his debts to society.''

The court also received several letters of support for Stiehl, who has no substance abuse issues and no prior arrests.

Defense attorney Ray Kent asked that Stiehl receive a sentence of less than 30 years based on his lack of prior arrests and no history of substance abuse.

Once he is released from federal prison, Stiehl will be placed on lifetime supervised probation.