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Cloquet man sentenced for child pornography

A Cloquet man is now serving prison time after pleading guilty to eight charges related to child pornography.

Edward Christian, 76, was sentenced in November to 15 years in prison for seven charges of possession of pornographic work of a minor under age 14, and one count of using a minor under 14 years old for sexual performance. Sentences for each charge varied from 24 months to 180 months. The sentences will be served concurrently. If they had been served consecutively, Christian would have faced more than 61 years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint, Christian was initially charged in February 2022 after a victim’s mother observed Christian allegedly showing a 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, where 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.

Christian’s attorney Kevin Cornwell argued for a lesser sentence, saying that Christian was particularly amenable to sex offender treatment in a probationary setting. Due to his age and health issues, Christian is “particularly unamenable to a prison sentence,” Cornwell wrote in a motion to the court on Oct. 30, after completion of a psychosexual evaluation. The evaluator put Christian in a very-low-risk category. Christian had no prior criminal record.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, six charges of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct were dismissed.

Christian must serve a minimum of two-thirds of his sentence before he is eligible for parole. Christian received credit for 623 days of jail time already served since his arrest.