Michigan man sentenced to at least 15 years in prison for sexually exploiting children

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Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 1:54 PM EDT
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WILX) - A Michigan man was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for sexually exploiting children.

Austin Thomas Noel, 27, from Hudsonville, was arrested after a mother reported to the FBI that she discovered her daughter was engaging in sexually explicit chat with a man using the account name “official_anoel” in January 2022.

The conversations began when the child was 13 years old and continued for around two years. The FBI identified Austin Noel as the man behind “official_anoel” and found more than 700 chat logs and communications between him and girls and young women. About 37 of these girls identified themselves as minors—more than 20 were ages 12 to 15. According to federal court, Noel made numerous efforts to meet with the minors for sex throughout the chats.

In March 2023, Noel pleaded guilty to a Felony Information charging him with sexually exploiting the victim and using her to create child pornography for him. After he serves 210 months in prison, he will spend seven years on supervised release.

This case was part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, county prosecutor’s offices, the Internet Crimes Against Children task force (ICAC), federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who exploit children. The partners in Project Safe Childhood work to educate local communities about the dangers of online child exploitation and to teach children how to protect themselves. Visit Project Safe Childhood for more information. People with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement officials.

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