HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Parkersburg man pled guilty today to a child pornography crime, announced United States Attorney Mike Stuart. Stephen Craig Sluss, 59, of Sc
ott Depot, entered his guilty plea to receiving child pornography. He is a Putnam County attorney, former Kanawha County magistrate, and served in the House of Delegates.
U.S. Attorney Stuart praised the investigative efforts of the West Virginia State Police, the West Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security Investigations.
U.S. Attorney Stuart said, “I commend the law enforcement officers dedicated to investigating these disgusting crimes, as well as the members of my team who prosecute these cases. Protecting our children from predators is some of the most difficult and important work we do.”
Sluss admitted that on April 1, 2017, he received videos of prepubescent minors engaged in sex acts. The videos were received by Sluss via the Internet. The investigation revealed that Sluss was using a web-based chatting service to access and download child pornography. Sluss further admitted to possessing over 600 images and videos of minors engaged in sex acts, and that some of those images involved sadistic conduct.
Sluss faces at least five and up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced on July 19, 2018. Upon his release from prison, he will be required to serve a term of supervised release of at least five years and up to life. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.
First Assistant United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston and Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Rada Herrald are in charge of the prosecution. The plea hearing was held before United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers.
This case is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative of the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney’s 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 those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.