ANGOLA — A Lake Pleasant man is in Steuben County Jail, convicted Friday morning of possession of child pornography and being a repeat sex offender.
Stephen Paul Buzzard, 67, was sentenced in Steuben Superior Court to seven years in prison, four years for a Level 5 felony count of possession of child pornography and another three years for being a repeat sex offender. Two years are suspended, so following five years served in prison, Buzzard will be on probation for two years.
“You will be on parole for the rest of your life,” said Judge William Fee, explaining the many terms of his lifetime listing on the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender registry.
Four other counts of possession of child pornography were dismissed as part of a plea bargain.
Buzzard posted bail after being arrested in October on a warrant in Cromwell. He had lived 30 years in a Lake Pleasant home with his wife but said after a story about his arrest was published in the newspaper, he was threatened by neighbors and had to move in with his parents.
Buzzard was reported to the Indiana State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force through a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in late 2018. The image allegedly downloaded by Buzzard using Frontier Communications on Nov. 6, 2018 was of a 5-to-7-year-old child, partially nude, say court documents.
A search warrant was issued at the Buzzard residence in August. Police seized four laptops and six hard drives. A forensic examination of the devices was completed by state police experts in mid-September. While Buzzard allegedly took steps to “clean” files from the hard drives, investigators identified around 65,000 pictures and more than 100 videos allegedly containing child pornography, say court documents.
“All of the images that I viewed online were freely accessible to anyone,” said Buzzard prior to his sentencing. “They weren’t in any hidden files someplace ... I did not participate in any production or distribution of the images.”
In his sentencing, Fee admonished Buzzard for minimizing his crimes.
“Every one of these children in these images is someone’s daughter,” said Fee. “None of these children consented to be depicted. ... These are children, for Lord’s sake.”
Buzzard was convicted of child molesting in 1988. At the time, Buzzard taught for Prairie Heights Community Schools and was accused of fondling two 11-year-old girls in his fifth-grade classroom. Buzzard resigned in early 1988 after 14 years of teaching.
In 2006, he was convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor for inappropriate behavior with a coworker.