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Man pleads guilty to child pornography charges

A 76-year-old Cloquet man could be facing more than 11 years in prison for possession of child pornography and use of a minor in pornographic work.

On April 24, Edward Christian entered a plea to seven counts of possession of pornographic work; minor under 14 along with one count of use of minors in sexual performance/pornographic work; minor under 14 years old. Under the terms of the plea agreement, six charges of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree with a person under 13 were dismissed.

According to the criminal complaint, Christian was initially charged in February 2022 after a victim’s mother observed Christian allegedly showing the young child pornography on a video call.

The parents contacted the Cloquet Police Department, and an officer retrieved Christian’s laptop, Kindle and cellphone. The victim was interviewed at First Witness in Duluth, when they also testified about being shown pornographic images other times and being touched by Christian, using anatomically correct drawings to show where he touched them.

During further investigation, a Cloquet police detective reviewed an extraction of Christian’s Kindle performed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He observed 141 images which appeared to be of prepubescent or elementary-school-aged children engaged in sexual acts, in sexually provocative positions, sexually suggestive positions, or in various stages of undress. He also had images of the victim on his phone.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 2, unless it’s delayed until a psychosexual evaluation scheduled for September is completed.

County attorney Lauri Ketola is asking the judge to proceed without the evaluation to allow the victim and their family some closure. Defense attorney Kevin Cornwell argues that he can’t argue for a reduced sentence without the essential information provided in the psychosexual evaluation. Ketola said a psychosexual evaluation is not required by state statute.

Christian has been in the Carlton County jail since he was arrested, with bail set at $500,000.

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