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A Faulkner County man faces five to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to one of six charges he faced at his jury trial next week on accusations of prostituting a 17-year-old girl and distributing sexually explicit photographs of her.

Cedric Jackson, 36, who is known as "Ced" and "Fuse," pleaded guilty to a single charge of distributing child pornography, in exchange for the dismissal of a sex-trafficking charge, a possession-of-child-pornography charge and three charges of producing child pornography.

Even with the dismissal of the production charges, each of which is punishable by at least 15 years in federal prison without parole, Jackson is still facing a minimum sentence of five years without parole for the conduct that led to all the charges. He also is facing state charges stemming from his arrest last summer in Conway.

Jackson appeared Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker with defense attorney Kim Driggers of the federal public defender's office at his side. After listening to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant read aloud an account of what led to his charges, Jackson agreed that what she said was true.

Bryant said that on July 26, 2017, the FBI was made aware of an advertisement on the now-defunct website Backpage.com offering sexual services by an underage girl. The FBI soon learned that the girl pictured on the site was believed to be living with Jackson, who was then 35.

Through the site, undercover officers arranged a "date" with the girl in which she promised to dance for them and perform specific sexual acts for money, Bryant said.

She said that when the girl met with officers, she instead was taken into custody. Bryant said officers then tried to arrest Jackson, who had driven the girl to an apartment where the meeting took place and was parked on one side of the building.

Bryant said Faulkner County sheriff's deputies tried to box Jackson in with their vehicles before arresting him, but he saw what was happening, jumped out of his vehicle and led officers on a foot chase before being captured.

Evidence found in the car indicated that Jackson had been taking nude photographs of the girl in sexually explicit poses and using them to promote her as a prostitute, Bryant said.

She said the girl gave officers consent to search her mobile phone, where officers found several pornographic videos of the girl that she said Jackson had taken and had sent to "clients."

On April 6, federal law enforcement agencies seized and shut down Backpage.com, a classified listing site, and raided the Phoenix-area home of co-founder Michael Lacey. Prosecutors said the site was used to sell underage girls and women who were forced into prostitution by sex traffickers.

Baker accepted Jackson's guilty plea and said she will schedule his sentencing in about 90 days, after a presentence report is prepared.

Bryant told the judge that the parties agreed that even if the presentence report suggests a higher penalty range than the 11 to 14 years they anticipate, neither side will ask for a reduced or enhanced sentence. The anticipated sentence already factors in enhancements for distributing child pornography for monetary gain, engaging in a pattern of activity involving sexual abuse, and law officers' seizure of between 10 and 150 images of child pornography.

Despite the agreement, the judge doesn't have to agree to sentence Jackson within the anticipated penalty range, but if she doesn't agree, he isn't allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. Under federal statutes, the sentence must fall between five and 20 years.

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Metro on 07/11/2018

Print Headline: Child-porn plea taken in U.S. case

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