Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man faces mandatory 5 years for sexual assault

Delays in case due to defendant ditching GPS monitoring, going the lam for months

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids man pleaded Thursday to a lesser charge in the sexual assault of a 22-year-old woman in 2018.

Gene A. Nelson, 25, made an Alford plea in Linn County District Court to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse causing bodily injury. He originally was charged with third-degree sexual abuse.

In an Alford plea, a defendant doesn’t admit to the offense but admits the prosecution has enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The woman told police Nelson grabbed her by the neck, assaulted her and forced her to have sex on Aug. 5, 2018, at residence in Cedar Rapids, according to criminal complaint.

This case was delayed because Nelson went on the lam for several months. He was arrested and charged in December 2018 and posted bail three days later. Nelson then was charged with forgery March 21, 2019, in a separate case and failed to appear for an April 1 hearing.

A pretrial release report showed Nelson removed his GPS ankle bracelet April 1. A probation officer tracked the ankle monitor to a dumpster at Nelson’s apartment complex but was unable to retrieve it because of the amount of trash in the dumpster.

Officers attempted to contact Nelson, but his whereabouts were unknown until mid-June of last year when U.S. marshals received a phone tip on a new mobile app — USMS TIPS — that allows the public to provide anonymous tips to law enforcement.

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Nelson was highlighted as fugitive of the week by marshals to announce the new app, and they received a tip that led to Nelson’s arrest.

Nelson has previous convictions for forgery, willful injury, domestic abuse, several thefts and probation revocations.

He faces a mandatory five years in prison, a special sentencing of parole for 10 years because it was a sexual offense and is required to be on the sex offender registry after serving his prison term.

Sentencing is set for March 17.

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

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