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CHEYENNE, Wyo. - An Iowa man pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of production of child pornography, admitting in court that he persuaded a Wyoming teenager to send him sexually explicit images of herself over the Internet.

Gabriel Simmons, 29, of Onawa, Iowa, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne.

Johnson accepted a plea agreement Simmons made with federal prosecutors that calls for him to serve 15 years in prison. The judge set sentencing for June 23.

Prosecutor Jim Anderson of the U.S. Attorney's Office told Johnson that Simmons got the girl to begin sending photos in early 2009 by pretending to be an employee of a modeling agency. As time went on, Simmons demanded more sexually explicit photos and ultimately got the girl to produce videos of her and a boy having sex, Anderson said.

"The teenage girl expressed some reluctance to have further videos made and at that stage, there was some coercion applied, threats to expose those videos to her family and school," Anderson said.

Anderson said the government may seek to have Simmons to pay restitution to cover the girl's counseling costs. He said she's been hospitalized for treatment of depression and anxiety.

The girl contacted Cheyenne police in July 2010 and a federal agent assigned to the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigated the case.

The federal indictment against Simmons, filed last November, charged him with production of child pornography, online enticement of a child and two counts of interstate shipment of pornography. Prosecutors dropped the last three charges in exchange for his guilty plea to the production charge.

Anderson said that if Simmons had been convicted of all the charges at trial, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison.

According to court records, the federal agent found Simmons is from the Onawa, Iowa, area and had served in the U.S. Marine Corps. At a court hearing last year, Simmons said he most recently has served in the Army National Guard.

Under questioning from Johnson, Simmons said he's served in the military for the past 10 years and has been at duty stations in various parts of the world but has never been in combat. Simmons said he understood the plea agreement.

"You knew you were doing wrong?" Johnson asked Simmons.

"Yes, your honor," Simmons said.

 

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