A man who maintained a long term online grooming relationship with a minor teenager via social media, which ended with him secretly driving her to Iowa and hiding her in a park while her parents tried to locate her, was sentenced today to more than ten years in federal prison.
Randy Abels, age 27, from Lowden, Iowa received the prison term after a guilty plea to receipt of child pornography.
At the guilty plea, Abels admitted he knowingly received visual depictions of child pornography from the victim. At sentencing, the judge noted that Abels was a “predator” who “kidnapped” the victim from her home after grooming her online. Abels pursued the victim and physically transported her from Minnesota to Iowa after being previously caught and confronted by her parents. In an attempt to avoid being caught, he hid her at a park.
Abels was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court C.J. Williams. Abels was sentenced to 121 months’ imprisonment and fined $100. He must also serve a ten-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
Abels is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Liz Dupuich and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cedar County Sherriff’s Department.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 21-CR-0002.
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