‘Thought child safe’ at day care in porn case

LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Parents whose children went to the day care where a man has admitted to making child pornographic material are now left to wonder if their kids are victims.

Travis Stiehl, 22, was arrested after the result of a month-long joint investigation between the Michigan State Police Internet Crimes Against Children task force and Homeland Security Investigations. In an affidavit of probable cause filed in Kent County’s 63rd District Court, authorities say Stiehl admitted to making three videos of unclothed, pre-teen boys and said two of those were made at the Lowell residence.

The daycare was shut down in December after federal investigators notified state authorities, but parents who contacted 24 Hour News 8 say they are concerned that authorities have not contacted them about whether their kids have been victimized.

“I thought my child was safe there,” one parent, who asked not to be identified, told 24 Hour News 8. “And to hear that, I can’t even describe how I feel.”

Another parent said she contacted the Department of Homeland Security and was asked a battery of questions in an hour-long conversation.

Her child is an infant girl, so she doesn’t think she’s a victim. Still, she’s not certain.

“You don’t know what to say or what to do because you don’t know the extent,” the mother said in a Tuesday interview.

Concerns increased after 24 Hour News 8 aired excerpts of a jailhouse interview with Steihl in which he admitted to creating the pornographic material. He said he was sorry about what happened.

“I was around [the kids] a lot,” Steihl said in the interview. “I know what I did was not right. It was wrong.”

Steihl declined to discuss the details of the case that has the families concerned.

“I don’t want to get into details,” Steihl said. “I don’t want to put myself in a corner and screw myself.”

But, he said, “I should be where I am.”

Typically when investigators are able to identify victims, families are notified. Authorities declined to discuss whether or not that has happened in this case.

Homeland Security Investigators are asking anyone with information about Stiehl to contact the Grand Rapids office at 616.235.3936 ext. 2215 or the MSP ICAC at 616.866.6675.

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