Public Safety

Cedar County man faces up to 20 years for child porn involving 14-year-old Minnesota girl

He also faces sexual abuse and other charges in state court

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar County man was convicted Tuesday in federal court of receiving child pornography involving a 14-year-old Minnesota girl, who he met online, and is accused in state court of sexually abusing the teen.

Randy Thomas Abels, 27, of Lowden, pleaded in U.S. District Court to one count of receiving child pornography. He admitted to starting an online relationship in 2019 with a 14-year-old Minnesota girl and continuing contact with her through July of last year, according to a plea agreement. During this contact, Abels and the girl exchanged sexually explicit videos and photos over social media sites.

A search warrant from one of Abels’ social media accounts showed he received at least eight sexually explicit videos from June through July of last year, which are considered child pornography.

Abels and the girl were also found in a park in July of last year in Cedar County, according to the plea. Abels drove to Minnesota and brought her back to Iowa. During an interview with authorities, Abels admitted that he knew the girl was a minor, the plea states.

Abels also was charged last September in Cedar County District Court with enticing a minor, lascivious acts with a child, and two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, all felonies, and indecent contact with a child and harboring a runaway child, both aggravated misdemeanors. He is accused of picking up the same 14-year-old Minnesota girl in July of last year and driving her back to his home in Lowden and sexually abusing her.

In the federal case, Abels faces a minimum of five years and possibly up to 20 years in prison. He also will have to serve at least five years of supervised release and may also be ordered to fines and victim restitution.

A sentencing date will be set after a presentencing report is completed.

In the Cedar County case, if convicted, he faces up to 39 years in prison. A pretrial hearing is set for Friday. A trial date hasn’t been set at this time.

Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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