An Empire man who allegedly planted a cellular phone in his foster daughter’s closet with the intent to capture her naked on video has been arrested, authorities said.
Steven Louis Stearns, 44, was taken into custody at his home in the 200 block of G Street on Sunday night after deputies were called by the juvenile victim about 8 p.m., according to Chief Mike Radford of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.
The foster daughter reportedly discovered the phone in her closet after getting dressed upon her return from a shower, Radford said.
“She was terrified because she believed she was being recorded,” Radford said.
Radford said there was video from the phone that corroborated her statement.
The victim was removed from the residence and placed in alternative care.
Also in the house were the suspect’s wife and three children. The children were placed in the custody of Child Protective Services, which then released them to the wife, Radford said.
Stearns was booked into Stanislaus County Jail on charges including annoying or molesting a child under 18 years of age and sexual exploitation of a child.