Public Safety

Marion man convicted of sexually assaulting 15-year-old girl

He faces up to 35 years in prison

CEDAR RAPIDS — A 20-year-old Marion man was convicted last week of sexually assaulting an intoxicated 15-year-old girl and then videotaping the sex acts and sharing them on social media.

Christian Sousley was found guilty of second-degree sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of a minor late Friday by a Linn County jury following a four-day trial. He faces up to 35 years in prison.

Trial testimony shows Sousley, along with two teen boys, sexually abused the girl on April 30, 2017, at a home in Marion. Sousley also videotaped the sex acts and shared the graphic video on Snapchat, a multimedia messaging app. The prosecution played the video for the jurors during the trial.

The girl, now 16, testified at trial that she drank a half bottle of vodka and didn’t remember having sex with Sousley or the others. After drinking the liquor while driving around with Sousley and other friends, she remembered “going in and out of it” — blacking out at times at the Marion home. She didn’t feel coherent, she said.

The girl said she didn’t want to have sex and didn’t consent. She remembered waking up to Sousley on top of her.

She didn’t realize she had been sexually assaulted until she started receiving texts through Snapchat from Sousley, she testified.

Photos of screenshots of the text messages were shown to the jury.

Sousley, in the messages, said they were all drunk and admitted to having sex with her.

A video recording made by Sousley on his cellphone also was played for the jurors, along with recorded phone calls Sousley made from jail in which he admitted to sex acts with the girl and knowing she was 15 years old and intoxicated at the time.

Assistant Linn County Attorney Rena Schulte said a nurse testified at trial that the girl was treated for acute alcohol intoxication.

During the trial, Sousley testified that the sex was consensual and claimed he wasn’t in the video. He denied being in the room, and said one of two teen boys hacked into his Snapchat account, recorded it and shared it on the app.

Both teen boys testified at trial and admitted they all three sexually abused the girl.

Jaymz Plummer, now 19, of Marion was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse. He received a deferred sentenced and three years probation.

The other teen boy was adjudicated in Juvenile Court for his part in the sexual assault and sentenced to probation.

An investigation started after the video was seen by a high school student in Des Moines who reported it to a school resource officer, according to testimony.

Schulte said it’s been difficult to get a guilty verdict in recent sex abuse cases, so she was happy the jurors considered all the evidence and “won’t tolerate this behavior in their community.”

Assistant Linn County Attorney Jennifer Erger agreed, saying she hopes it will encourage other victims of sexual abuse to come forward. She pointed out that when underage drinking or drugs are involved, a victim or witness might be reluctant because they fear nobody will believe them or that they will get in trouble.

This case also highlights how social media can be part of the crime if used in an irresponsible and destructive way, and if someone sees a crime or someone being harmed, they should speak up, Erger added.

Sousley’s sentencing date hasn’t been set.

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

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