CORPUS CHRISTI (KVEO) — A man from Corpus Christi will serve 50 years in prison after a court case revealed he groomed a child into a sexual relationship, produced child pornography, and planned to marry the child.
Stephen Scott Meals, 39, was sentenced to 600 months, or 50 years, in prison on Wednesday eight months after he initially pleaded guilty for the child pornography charges.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Meals revealed that he groomed the victim child for years as he became a friend to her family.
Meals began a relationship with the victim in August 2017, when the victim was 15-years-old, after her family was displaced due to Hurricane Harvey.
Meals began sexually assaulting the victim from then until November 2018, when law enforcement arrested him after becoming aware of the relationship.
An investigation revealed that Meals planned to marry the victim. Police noted that the victim was wearing a promise ring that Meals had given her.
As police further investigated the matter, they found child pornography on Meals’s electronic devices. Hidden in a secure folder on Meals’s cell phone were graphic sexual images Meals took of the victim.
The victim gave her testimony before the court on Wednesday and gave her statement on how this situation impacted her. She stated she would not live as a victim of this crime, and instead live as a survivor.
Additionally, investigators found that Meals had sexually abused another child. However, it is unclear if this victim or the victim’s family will press charges.
Meals will serve 50 years in prison for this offense and upon release, is ordered to live under supervised release and be forced to register as a sex offender.