The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 17, 2010

Eagle Lake man faces sexual exploitation charges

EAGLE LAKE — Charges have been filed in Iowa against a 46-year-old Eagle Lake man who is accused of sexual exploitation and attempting to lure a 14-year-old girl away from her home in Fayette County, Iowa.

Steven Roger Morrow was taken into custody Wednesday after his house in the 400 block of Thomas Drive was searched by sheriff’s investigators from both Blue Earth County and Fayette County, Iowa.

 Three computers and other computer equipment were taken by authorities during the search, according to a search warrant receipt filed in Mankato last week.

Morrow was released from the Blue Earth County Jail Thursday after he posted a $22,500 bond.

The investigation that led to the charges started March 15 with a tip from a man in Washington state. He called Chief Deputy James Davis of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department to report seeing a suggestive video of a girl on the Internet. The girl, who provided a Fayette County address with the video, claimed to be 19 years old but looked much younger, the man reported.

Davis was able to identify the girl on the video and contact her parents, according to the search warrant application filed in Blue Earth County. He also called the business operating the website where the video was located and had it removed.

The girl’s parents gave Davis permission to search her computer. He also was able to use information found on the computer to correspond with several people who had contacted the girl by e-mail as a result of the video posting.

After a few days of pretending to be the girl, Davis sent an e-mail saying he was 15 years old, not 19 years old as the video had claimed. Only one person continued to maintain contact. That person used a Yahoo e-mail address that was traced to Morrow’s house in Eagle Lake, the search warrant affidavit said.

During the e-mail exchanges, Davis reported he claimed to be in middle school and pretended, at one point, to be sending e-mails from the school library. Morrow allegedly sent pornographic pictures of himself. Some of the pictures showed his face. A driver’s license photograph Davis obtained from Eagle Lake Police Chief Phil Wills appeared to be the same person, Davis reported.

Morrow was charged May 5 with sexual exploitation of a child, exhibiting obscene materials to a child and attempting to entice a child away from home, according to Iowa court records. He faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison.

The telephone number listed for Morrow’s Eagle Lake residence has been disconnected, so he couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

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