An Astoria man paid the price on Tuesday for sharing hundreds of photos and videos of children being sexually abused by adults online, prosecutors announced.
Howard Stapley, 40, pleaded guilty in September to 125 counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child and 171 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child. He was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison and must register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.
According to charges, Stapley began to date a woman, who has not been identified, in August 2015. About a month into the relationship, Stapley told her to download the KIK app, a mobile instant messaging app, onto her cellphone.
Once she installed the app onto her phone, Stapley immediately began sending her photographs and video clips of young children being molested by adults.
Stapley’s messages to the woman included his desire to have sexual relationships with “animals to kids to groups.” Stapley would also talk about sharing a bed with a family – a woman and her three children – and his desire for all of them to have group sex.
As noted in the criminal complaint, Stapley told the woman through text that “I enjoy the idea of converting you into a pedophile.” He further began to teach the woman how to take explicit photos of children and how to sexually molest a child in a public bathroom.
Stapley also went as far as urging the woman to place babysitting ads so the two of them could molest the children that were in her care.
When the woman went to the police, an investigator used a forensic tool on her phone and found that Stapley had sent her at least 33 pictures and videos with children between the ages of two and eight being sexually assaulted by adult males. During this time, Stapley continued to send the woman more child sexual abuse material through text and the KIK app.
On Sept. 30, 2015, police executed a search warrant of Stapley’s home and recovered his laptop and cellphone. A forensic examination of the laptop found at least 46 videos of young children being sexually assaulted by men, plus more than 125 photographs and videos of children between the ages of two and 12 being sexually abused by men on his cellphone.
When Stapley was arrested, he stated that he was using the KIK app to communicate with others and to trade files of child sex abuse. He also admitted to creating two group chats on KIK to share and comment on child sexual abuse material with others that he allowed to join the group.
“These kinds of graphic and sick photos are for all intents and purposes crime scene images,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “Several victim impact statements from the children identified in the online images were read in Court illustrating the trauma they endured and the continued torture they go through every day knowing these images are being shared with others. The defendant also shared his desire to breed children in order to sexually abuse them. This kind of depravity will not be tolerated. The defendant in this case has been sentenced and will be locked away from civilized society.”