The S.C. Attorney General's Office is investigating whether a Bluffton man and former guitarist of a 1970s precursor to the rock band Kiss was involved in producing child pornography allegedly found in his home Friday.
Stephen Coronel, 63, was arrested following a search of his Plantation Point home, where he was playing or uploading four videos of young children engaging in sexual acts, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
The videos depicted children ranging from 3 to 12 years old, the Sheriff's Office said.
Investigators seized and will analyze three computers, seven external hard drives, three cellphones and numerous flash drives, CDs and VHS tapes, a news release said.
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Coronel, who remained in the Beaufort County Detention Center on Monday afternoon, was a guitarist for the rock band Wicked Lester with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, who later formed Kiss.
Coronel introduced Simmons, his friend, to Stanley, his bandmate in another group, in New York City in 1970, according to Simmons' memoir "Kiss and Make-Up."
He also co-wrote several songs that were released on Kiss albums, including "She" and "Goin' Blind," but never performed a major show, according to Dennis Gage, manager of Rocket Ride, a St. Louis-based Kiss tribute band.
"A lot of things he envisioned never really came true," Gage said. "That can pretty much tear a person apart."
Reached Sunday, Gage said he got in touch with Coronel about four months ago to invite him to play in a Rocket Ride show Oct. 10. He said he was shocked when band members told him about Coronel's arrest.
"It blew me off guard," Gage said.
As of last week, Rocket Ride's show had sold more than 3,400 tickets and would have been the largest crowd Coronel had played for, according to Gage.
However, plans fell through before his arrest, Gage said. On Sept. 13, Coronel wrote about his canceled appearance on his Facebook page.
Coronel had elaborate and expensive requests for his participation, including designing Egyptian costumes for himself and Rocket Ride to wear on stage and creating a stage centerpiece -- a 30-foot-long winged lion with laser eyes, Gage said.
Coronel, also a designer, sent Gage illustrations of both, and Coronel posted his Egyptian god costume on Facebook, as well, complete with platform boots.
He had also requested the band pay for his flight to Missouri, Gage said. At the time, Coronel was splitting his time between homes in Bluffton and Queens, N.Y., Gage said.
The group didn't have enough money to pull off Coronel's vision for the show, but agreed to revisit it in 2015.
Gage said he ran into Simmons and Kiss manager Doc McGhee backstage at a concert in August and chatted with them about the plans. He said they seemed supportive.
Gage said he and Coronel last spoke two weeks ago.
"This would have been not really a comeback, but a breakout concert for him," Gage said.
Attempts to reach McGhee were unsuccessful.
Reached Monday, Mark Powell of the S.C. Attorney General's Office said he did not have more information about the investigation of Coronel.
According to the Sheriff's Office, the investigation began June 30, when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received information that a Bluffton IP address was streaming child pornography depicting a young girl, believed to be 6 to 11 years old.
The S.C. Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Sheriff's Office determined the IP address belonged to Coronel and searched his home Friday.
He was charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of a child. His bond information was not available Monday from the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office.
Anyone with information about the case can call Sgt. Angela Boland at 843-255-3707 or Crime Stoppers at 888-CRIME-SC (274-6372).
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.
- Bluffton guitarist faces child pornography charge, September 27, 2014