LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Detroit — A Wolverine Lake man and his son are facing 20-year felony charges after federal agents found child pornography on their home computer.

The case is a unique twist in the rise of child pornography prosecutions across Metro Detroit, a case that came together following cyber-sleuthing by the Department of Homeland Security and features a surprise admission from the son before taking a lie-detector test, according to federal court records.

Since 2011, the number of people charged in child pornography cases has nearly tripled and those convicted were sent to prison for an average of almost 10 years in federal prison.

The investigation dates to February 2014 and utilized special software that can identify people in file-sharing networks that are distributing child pornography. Lisa Keith, a Homeland Security special agent, identified several files that contained child pornography and traced the images to a computer inside a home in Wolverine Lake, six miles north of Novi.

That's the home of father, Steven Duane Smith, 53, and son, Steven "Mike" Smith, 29.

Keith obtained a federal warrant to search the home. On Oct. 16, agents raided the house and found several computers and hard drives.

While examining a desktop computer, an analyst identified two user names: one for the father and one for the son.

Under the father's user name, the analyst found several files containing suspected child pornography — including one video of a naked, approximately 8-year-old girl in a lewd position, according to court records.

Under the son's user name, the analyst found more files containing suspected child pornography, according to court records.

During questioning, the son admitted downloading child pornography and "stated that he started downloading child pornography when he was approximately 10 years old," the agent wrote in a court filing.

The son initially said it had been years since he viewed child pornography "but then admitted that he looked at child pornography within the last month," according to court records.

The son said he looked at child pornography as many as seven times a week, according to court records.

Then, agents had the son take a lie-detector test. During questioning, the son said he downloaded as many as 200 child pornography files over the last decade.

The son said that when he was 15 years old, he performed oral sex on a 6-year-old boy "who was in his care," according to court records.

The U.S. Attorney's Office would not comment on whether they are investigating that claim.

"On 5-7 different occasions, Smith admitted that he has approached girls (ages 7-11) and asked to see underneath their clothes," the federal agent wrote in a court filing. "Smith stated that he approached these girls and tried to 'make it seem like it was a good idea.'"

The incidents happened in Wolverine Lake, Kentucky and at a church, according to court records.

The father and son face up to 20 years in prison and fines, if convicted. The son is being held in jail pending trial but his father was released on $10,000 unsecured bond Thursday.

While out on bond, the father must submit to location monitoring by federal officers and is barred from having contact with children under age 18, except for one of his sons, who is a minor.

The father also is barred from accessing the Internet.

The father is facing three child pornography-related charges, including one count indicating he has received child pornography online since 1999.

The son's lawyer, Stacey Studnicki, declined comment. The father's lawyer could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The father made an initial appearance Thursday in federal court. Before appearing in court, his Facebook status was updated with a photo and a quote from the Bible: "Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise."

rsnell@detroitnews.com

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/1C7Whnp