Madeline Soto Case: Mother’s Boyfriend Hit With 60 New Charges

A guy believed to be the “prime suspect” in the disappearance and murder of 13-year-old Madeline Soto has been charged with 60 additional sex crimes.

The Kissimmee Police Department reported on Tuesday that Stephan Sterns, 37, Soto’s mother’s boyfriend, had been charged with dozens of sex crimes stemming from “disturbing” photographs and videos discovered on his phone.

Madeline Soto Case: Mother's Boyfriend Hit With 60 New Charges

Sterns was arrested on February 28 and charged with sexual battery and possession of child sexual abuse materials, which police stated had nothing to do with Soto’s death. According to investigators, photographs and videos were recovered on Stephan Sterns’ phone following her disappearance. Detectives discovered additional evidence of child sexual assault during their investigation, prompting the fresh charges.

The Kissimmee Police Department charged Sterns with the following offenses:

  • Eight counts of sexual battery on a minor under twelve
  • Five counts of sexual battery on a kid. 12-18
  • Seven charges of indecent and lascivious molestation.
  • 40 counts of unauthorized possession of materials portraying a child’s sexual performance in 10 or more pictures.
Madeline Soto Case: Mother's Boyfriend Hit With 60 New Charges

According to an arrest report filed earlier this month by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Sterns sexually molested her when she was 11 years old.

Sexual battery against a kid under the age of 12 is a serious offense, therefore Sterns might face the death penalty if convicted. If convicted of the other crimes, he may face life in jail.

Sterns has not been charged with Soto’s murder, but the Orange County Sheriff’s Office considers him “the prime suspect.”

“We appreciate the efforts of our partners in the State Attorney’s Office in assisting with seeking justice for Madeline,” Kissimmee Chief of Police Betty Holland told NBC station WESH. “With this being a complex case with many facets, our work is not done, and we are continuing our investigation into the timeline leading up to Madeline’s death.”

Sterns is scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment on April 2.

What happened to Madeline Soto?

Madeline Soto Case: Mother's Boyfriend Hit With 60 New Charges

Madeline Soto was last seen alive on February 26. Sterns was scheduled to drop her off at school, but police say she didn’t arrive.

According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Sterns was recorded on video dumping goods into a dumpster at 7:35 a.m. that day. Officials discovered a child’s backpack and school laptop in the bin.

Sterns was seen again at 8:19 a.m., returning to his apartment building with Soto in the car, according to the sheriff’s office. Detectives suspect she has already died.

Madeline Soto’s body was discovered in the woods off Old Hickory Tree Road in Osceola County. Officials say Sterns was seen in the neighborhood on the afternoon of February 26.

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