US Man Faces 70 Years in Prison For Creating 13,000 AI Child Abuse Images

Man using a keyboard

A U.S. man has been charged by the FBI for allegedly producing 13,000 sexually explicit and abusive AI images of children on the popular Stable Diffusion model.

According to a press release published by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, 42-year-old Steven Anderegg, who is based in Holmen, Wisconsin is accused of creating thousands of “hyper-realistic images of nude and semi-clothed prepubescent children” using generative AI.

Anderegg has now been charged by the FBI with four counts of creating, distributing, and possessing child sexual abuse material as well as sending explicit material to a child under 16.

If convicted, Anderegg faces a maximum sentence of around 70 years in prison and a mandatory minimum of five years in jail.

“Technology may change, but our commitment to protecting children will not,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco says in a statement.

“The Justice Department will aggressively pursue those who produce and distribute child sexual abuse material — or ‘CSAM’ — no matter how that material was created.

“Put simply, CSAM generated by AI is still CSAM, and we will hold accountable those who exploit AI to create obscene, abusive, and increasingly photorealistic images of children.”

The FBI charged Anderegg after the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) received two reports last year that flagged his Instagram account, which prompted law enforcement officials to monitor his activity on the social network, obtain information from Instagram, and eventually obtain a search warrant.

Authorities seized his laptop and found thousands of generative AI images, according to the indictment against him, as well as a history of using “extremely specific and explicit prompts” to create abusive material.

Evidence from Anderegg’s laptop allegedly showed he used the Stable Diffusion AI model, which turns text descriptions into images.

“Many of these images depicted nude or partially clothed minors lasciviously displaying or touching their genitals or engaging in sexual intercourse with men,” the DOJ says in the press release.

“Evidence recovered from Anderegg’s electronic devices revealed that he generated these images using specific, sexually explicit text prompts related to minors, which he then stored on his computer.”

According to a report by 404 Media, Anderegg’s arrest marks one of the first known instances where the FBI has charged someone for using AI to create child sexual abuse material.

It comes after two teen boys from Miami, Florida were arrested by police in March for allegedly making deepfake nude images of their high-school classmates —- in what was believed to be the first-ever U.S. instance of criminal charges in relation to AI-generated nudes.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.