Former Laramie Foster Parent Sentenced to 40-62 Years in Prison for Sex Crimes
A man convicted in Converse County District Court of sex crimes against children previously in his care pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to spend decades in prison Wednesday in Albany County District Court.
Stephen James Calderon, 32, pleaded guilty Wednesday to four counts of sexual assault of a minor in the first degree and one count of sexual exploitation of children.
Judge Jeffrey Donnell sentenced Calderon to 30-50 years imprisonment on two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, to run concurrent with each other and with an identical sentence imposed after Calderon pleaded guilty to similar charges in Converse County.
Calderon will also serve 10-12 years in prison on the sexual exploitation conviction. Calderon admitted Wednesday to creating or manufacturing child pornography by recording sexual acts he committed against a child. The 10-12 year sentence will run consecutively to the other sentences.
Donnell also handed down a 25-50 year suspended sentence on each of the two remaining sexual assault charges, also to run concurrently with each other and with identical suspended sentences imposed in Converse County. Instead, when Calderon finishes his initial 30-50 year sentence, he will be released on 45 years of probation.
If he violates any one of the 38 terms of that probation, he would be returned to prison to serve the full 25-50 year term.
"That will be, in effect, a life sentence," Donnell said.
Prosecutor Kurt Britzius said Wednesday he believes the sentence is structured appropriately, but feels it does not go far enough to satisfy the retribution demanded by Calderon's crimes.
Defense attorney Ian Sandefer called the 25- to 50-year prison term underlying Calderon's probation "a pretty big hammer hanging over his head," which Britzius felt was appropriate.
"He can make a choice to control himself or not," Britzius said. "And if he does not, he can die in prison."
"For what Mr. Calderon did, I don't think there's a term of incarceration that's long enough," Britzius said.
Donnell agreed and explained his reasoning for imposing a consecutive prison term on the sexual exploitation conviction, which stems from Calderon's admission that he recorded sex crimes he committed against a child previously in his care and posted the images online.
"It's like a bullet -- once you send it, you can never get it back," Donnell said. "That adds a whole new element and, in my opinion, deserves a separate punishment."
"I hardly know what else to say," Donnell added. "In twenty years in this business I don't know that I've seen a case of abuse and manipulation like what I've seen here."
Calderon has been imprisoned for roughly two years while the case worked its way through the courts.
Defense attorney Ian Sandefer said Wednesday that Calderon was remorseful and at the mercy of the court.
"This is a man that is truly sorry," Sandefer said. "He has clearly lost everything in his life."
Britzius said the plea deal accomplished the state's goal of keeping the victims off the witness stand, which Donnell said would prevent additional trauma.
"It's bad enough that it happened," Donnell said. "It's worse that the system requires that we, in effect, put them through it again."
Calderon was initially charged with 11 counts of sexual assault of a minor in the first degree and one count of sexual exploitation of children in Albany County District Court. The remaining charges were dismissed per the plea agreement.
Calderon had been scheduled to stand trial in Albany County District Court beginning July 6. He was previously sentenced to 30-50 years in prison and 45 years on supervised probation after pleading guilty to similar charges in Converse County.
An affidavit from a Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation agent says the agent received three tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on August 25, 2014 in regard to child pornography uploaded to Microsoft Skydrive. The IP address an email address tied to the upload were associated with Calderon.
The Division's Computer Crime Team Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a search warrant at Calderon's Douglas apartment four days after the tip was received. During the search, Calderon reportedly admitted to photographing his sexual contact with a child.
The affidavit goes on to say the DCI agent searched Calderon's Dropbox, Google and Microsoft accounts. Dropbox reportedly provided data that revealed child pornography on Calderon's account.
GPS coordinates within the files' Exchangeable Image File Format data revealed that the pictures were taken near Calderon's old address in Laramie.
Converse County District Court Judge John C. Brooks sentenced Calderon in January to 30-50 years in prison followed by 45-50 years on supervised probation and ordered him to pay $3,907 in restitution after Calderon admitted Oct. 15 to sexually abusing three foster children in his care from January 2013 to June 2014 while in Laramie. Calderon pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree.