Public Safety

California man sentenced to 30 years for producing sexually explicit videos and photos of Iowa runaway

David Vogelpohl
David Vogelpohl

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 22-year-old California man has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old Iowa girl.

David R. Vogelpohl of Vista, Calif., was convicted of one count of sexual exploitation of a child in June. 

During the plea hearing in June, Vogelpohl admitted he persuaded, induced or enticed a minor under 18 years old to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce photos and videos in 2018.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams at a Tuesday hearing also ordered Vogelpohl to serve five years of supervised release following prison and ordered him to register as a sex offender.

Vogelpohl was arrested Oct. 14 in Mason City on a charge of harboring a runaway against the consent of a parent. He was taken into custody in Nebraska, according to Cerro Gordo County court documents.

Court documents show the 15-year-old ran away from home, telling classmates she was running away with her boyfriend, Vogelpohl. He claimed to have no knowledge of her disappearance, documents show.

Authorities contacted Vogelpohl on Oct. 17 and 18, 2018, and he talked with law enforcement from Clarke and Warren counties on three occasions.

During those contacts, a girl — later confirmed to be the runaway teen — was with him. Authorities said she appeared to be scared and gave a false name.

A diner employee who saw them told authorities she overhead Vogelpohl “begging” the girl to jump on a train with him to Kansas City, according to court documents.

Court documents show Vogelpohl was violent in his sexual abuse of the victim, and he expressed pleasure from inflicting physical pain.

Authorities discovered text messages or social media messages describing incidents with the girl. She admitted to feeling threatened and being scared.

Vogelpohl also was “extremely controlling” toward the girl, according to sentencing documents.

He discouraged her from communicating with others, he instructed her to lie and he encouraged her to take a violent approach like his.

Vogelpohl was the girl’s only friend on Facebook, which he could access, along with her Google account. She had to use other social media, which he couldn’t access, to communicate with her sister, according to court documents.

Court documents show that on Oct. 4, 2018, before Vogelpohl took the girl from Mason City, she sent him a message, saying he was her “master.”

As they were planning to leave, he instructed her on how to make sure her father wouldn’t stop them. Vogelpohl told her to grab a pan — “kill him” — and then laid out in graphic detail how to do it.

Court documents also detail Vogelpohl’s violent tendencies growing up. His grandmother told authorities he had an interest in knives and attempted to stab and hit her. He made a knife out of a plastic light fixture at age 14 and stabbed himself. 

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Tremmel and was investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Mason City Police Department, the North Platte (Neb.) Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations.

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

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