Travis Stiehl: ‘I don’t think I’m a monster’

Travis Stiehl talking to 24 Hour News 8 from the Kent County Jail (Image courtesy Kent County Correctional Facility; April 29, 2014).

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A 22-year-old man accused of making child pornography in a formerly-licensed West Michigan child care told 24 Hour News 8 he is sorry.

“I just want to apologize to everybody. Just let them know that I’m really sorry,” Travis Stiehl told 24 Hour News 8 via a jailhouse interview Tuesday.

Stiehl 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. Stiehl was identified during an ongoing international investigation into the child pornography industry.

Child pornography was found on a computer inside the Lowell-area home where Stiehl lives. A state licensed child care facility was being run in that home, but the license was revoked in December 2013.

“I’m pretty sorry about everything. I mean I’m regretting every minute of it,” Stiehl said.

In an affidavit of probable cause, authorities say Stiehl admitted to making three videos and said two of those were made at the residence. The videos consisted of unclothed pre-teen boys.

Stiehl said the children were being taken care of at the child care.

“I know what I did was not right. I mean, it was wrong and I should be where I am.”

Stiehl said his mother, who was living at the house that was also a child care facility, did not know about the videos or what he was doing. He also spoke highly of his mother.

“She knew nothing. She was upset. She was caring and everything; she just did everything right and I kind of screwed that up.”

Stiehl did not answer several questions asked by 24 Hour News 8, saying he wanted to speak with his lawyer first before answering them. Despite everything he is accused of, Stiehl doesn’t believe he is a monster.

“I don’t think I’m a monster like that. I know that’s how everyone’s going to view it; I don’t know that’s what I’m expecting so I don’t see it going any other way. I personally don’t think I am, but that’s not what everybody’s been telling me.”

Stiehl will appear in court for a hearing on May 9. In addition to the local charges, officials say federal charges will likely come down sometime next week.

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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