Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

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July 12, 2013

Cowman pleads, Smith sentenced in underage sex video incident

Knoxville — In two separate court hearings Friday morning, both stemming from the same incident, two guilty men under the age of 21 emerged. At least one of them is headed for prison. 

Jordan Donovan Cowman, 20, and Jake Christian Smith, 20, participated in a sex crime against a 15-year-old girl in Knoxville in February. Smith received oral sex from the victim while Cowman recorded it on video and distributed it to at least one other person. The Knoxville Police Department became aware of the crime months later, when another juvenile female assaulted the victim after watching the video. 

Smith had previously pled guilty to third-degree sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of a minor. Friday was Cowman's turn to plead guilty. 

Cowman pled guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor. During his guilty plea proceedings, he provided Judge Randy Hefner and the court an account of what happened on the day in question. 

"I went to my friend's house," Cowman said. While there, he and his friends, including Smith, were playing practical jokes on each other. At one point, Cowman said Smith asked the girl to perform oral sex on him. Without the girl's knowledge, Cowman turned his laptop computer camera on to record the incident. The men planned to view the video later. 

Cowman told Hefner that he did not intend to distribute the video to anyone, until he received a call from a friend, to request a copy. After several minutes of peer pressure, Cowman gave in and sent him the digital video. From there, the video apparently went viral to an unknown number of recipients. 

Lt. Aaron Fuller of the Knoxville Police Department paid a visit to Cowman, following the incident at Knoxville High School that made the police aware of the tape. Cowman told the judge he is convinced that, after meeting with the police and Marion County Attorney Ed Bull, there is sufficient evidence to convict him of the crime. 

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