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Former Marquette resident sentenced to prison: Local officials urge parents to be vigilant of online predators

MARQUETTE — In the wake of a former area resident being sentenced to prison on charges of child sexually abusive material and sodomy, the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office is urging parents to be vigilant regarding online predators who target children.

Former Marquette resident Stephen Andrew Waligore, 41, was sentenced Wednesday by 25th Circuit Court Judge Jennifer A. Mazzuchi to eight to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of aggravated child sexually abusive activity and two counts of sodomy, according to the release.

As a part of Waligore’s April 24 plea agreement, he was required to plead guilty to one count of possession of child sexually abusive material in downstate Branch County and to one count of possession with intent to promote child pornography in Tarrant County, Texas.

All sentences for the charges are to run concurrently, meaning the earliest date Waligore is eligible for parole is Oct. 18, 2027. The defendant will serve 277 days for each of the sodomy charges with credit for 277 days already served in jail.

Any sentences received in Branch County and Tarrant County, Texas, will run concurrently as well, the release stated.

The sentences stem from an investigation that began in September when members of the Michigan State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received information that Waligore had been soliciting a minor female in Texas to create sexually explicit videos of herself.

The information came from an Arlington, Texas, police department detective.

“A search of the defendant’s electronic devices showed that he was in possession of a video of that child being sexually exploited, and that he had sent sexually explicit videos of himself to her as well,” the release states. “Further investigation led to the discovery that the defendant had been downloading and sending child sexually abusive material over the internet. Also discovered were videos of the defendant engaged in sexual activity with a dog.”

Marquette County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Andrew G. Griffin, who prosecuted the case, said it is a “strong reminder to all parents that predators are roaming the internet looking for children to exploit.”

“Never assume your children are safe, as predators like Mr. Waligore are a constant threat always looking for more victims,” Griffin said in the release.

Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese agreed that parents can play a vital role in stopping online predators who target children.

“Preying on children is one of the most heinous crimes a person can do, and we will continue to work with all law enforcement agencies to ensure such defendants are held accountable for their actions and removed from society to minimize their ability to harm children,” Wiese said. “Monitor your children’s online activities, and let them know that they can come to you if anyone ever tries to have any inappropriate contact with them, either in-person or online.”

The case was investigated locally by Michigan State Police Detective Troopers Thomas Kinnunen and Nichole Dyson, and Digital Forensic Analyst Jeff Martin and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with assistance from the Chocolay Township Police Department.

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