Plea deal reached in preteen sex assault and photo case

Greg Marsten | Staff writer
Jesse Campbell
Jesse Campbell avoids trial with guilty pleas

BALSAM LAKE – A plea deal has been reached in the criminal case against Jesse Campbell, 34, Stacy, Minnesota, in a case involving sexual assault allegations filed in late 2017 in Polk County Circuit Court, where Campbell stood accused of 11 felony counts and one misdemeanor, accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old female, while also taking multiple intimate, sexually explicit photos of the child, reportedly to sell to a website to buy Christmas presents.
Campbell appeared in Polk County Court on Monday, Feb. 18, before Judge Jeffery Anderson, where after multiple delays, his plea bargain was revealed, where he pleaded guilty to two of the 11 felony charges he faced, avoiding a jury trial, which was originally slated for last October.
Under the deal with prosecutors, nine of his felonies and his one misdemeanor charge were dismissed with his plea of guilty to one felony count of child sexual exploitation, which carries a potential 40-year prison sentence, as well as a guilty plea to a felony county of capturing an intimate representation, which carries a possible 3-1/2-year sentence.
Two initial enhancements for being a “repeater” were also removed in the amended charges and all the other charges were then dismissed but will be read in at his sentencing, which is now scheduled for May 3. A presentence investigation will be conducted prior to sentencing.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Polk County Circuit Court, as well as in testimony revealed in court during his preliminary hearing, police were initially called to Campbell’s residence on Dec. 19, 2017, on a report of a domestic disturbance. When they arrived, they found the incident came about as a woman had discovered sexually explicit photos of her preteen child on Campbell’s cellphone, as well as drugs and paraphernalia.
Investigation by the Polk County Sheriff’s Department and the Osceola Police Department led to the initial charges that included allegations of drug possession and for the nude photos, which were found on several of his phones. They were reportedly taken as the child dressed after a shower, as well as several other sexually explicit photos, including several that showed Campbell was also nude with the child, which led to more investigation and subsequently amended initial charges.
Campbell initially stood accused of 10 felony counts, including seven counts of soliciting an intimate image of a minor, one possession of child pornography and one count of sexual exploitation. The seven counts are each for one of the images found of the victim. He was also initially charged with felony marijuana possession, on top of a misdemeanor drug paraphernalia possession.
However, as noted, the charges against Campbell were expanded a short time after the initial report to include felony first-degree sexual assault of a child under age 13 - as a repeater, which carried the potential for up to 60 years in prison.
When initially confronted, Campbell admitted to police that the drugs and cellphones were his, admitting to investigators that he took the photos of the child, and said his inspiration was from an internet chat room service, where another user had said that he would pay $1,000 each for photos of nude minors. He reportedly told police that he initially wanted to use any payoff money obtained from the photos so the victim’s family “could have a nice Christmas.”
Campbell had at least seven photos of a sexual nature of the victim, in various states of undress. He told police he thought they had all been deleted and it was never clear how many images, if any, Campbell had taken beyond those police were able to find on his devices.
The original charges also carried repeater enhancements, although they were dropped as part of the plea deal. Those enhancements initially emerged because Campbell was convicted of domestic assault in Chisago County, Minnesota, in July 2014, but also because he is a previously convicted felon, coming from a 2011 felony stalking and terroristic threats charges case, which led to a 2013 plea agreement to eliminate the terroristic threats charge, but resulted in a conviction on the stalking charge that included a nearly two-year prison sentence that was initially stayed.
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