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Canyon country man sentenced for producing child pornography


A former Navy Seal

A Canyon Country man and former Navy SEAL has been to sentenced 20 years behind bars for producing child sexual abuse material by surreptitiously filming nude minor victims with hidden cameras in a residential setting.

Robert Stella, 51, of Santa Clarita, was found guilty last May in Los Angeles of three federal counts of producing child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Court documents show that Homeland Security Investigations received a tip three years ago that Stella had accessed a dark web child pornography website. On July 15, 2021, agents found collections of child pornography on Stella's computer and two external hard drives, according to evidence presented at trial in federal court.

Stella concealed some of the collections in digital folders structures bearing misleading titles such as “federal contracts” and “tax returns.” During the course of their investigation, federal agents also found hidden cameras that Stella placed, including one disguised as a USB charging block.

Jurors heard evidence that Stella used the hidden camera to film his minor victims as they undressed to shower and used the bathroom. Federal investigators later located about 17 videos and over 100 screenshots from those videos of minor victims naked and partially undressed. Stella hid these images under multi-level digital folder structures on a hard drive bearing misleading titles such as “course work,” prosecutors said.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment on July 27, 2021, that charged Stella with the three counts of production of child pornography, one count of access with intent to view child pornography for logging on to the child pornography dark web site, and two counts of possession of child pornography.

Although he went to trial on the production counts, Stella pleaded guilty to accessing with intent to view child pornography and two counts possession of child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Stella has been in custody since his arrest in July 2021.