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A federal judge this week imposed one of the longest child pornography sentences in recent Minnesota memory by sending a Bloomington man to prison for 40 years for victimizing at least 22 children and briefly fleeing overseas to evade prosecution.

U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank, noting that he had presided over hundreds of such cases in his career, singled out 31-year-old Ibrahim Ghassan Sleyman on Thursday as "distinguishable" from many past cases based on the severity of his crimes and hands-on sexual abuse committed against some of his victims.

Sleyman, who pleaded guilty to multiple child pornography counts and enticement of a minor last year, used Snapchat and other messaging apps to solicit sexually explicit images and sex acts from boys and girls ages 9-16 from October 2020 to March 2023, according to court records.

Prosecutors said he groomed one minor victim to make child pornography and later have sex with him in exchange for drugs and other gifts.

Sleyman fled to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in 2022, just days after law enforcement interviewed him. While there, he continued to engage in sexually explicit conversations with minors in the United States and tried to influence what his victims would tell authorities investigating him.

Sleyman was extradited by the UAE one year after fleeing to that country and taken into custody by the FBI.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Hillary Taylor said in a memo to the court that the investigation is ongoing "and it is anticipated that there are still dozens of minor victims yet to be identified."

Though Sleyman was charged with crimes dating back nearly four years, Taylor wrote in a sentencing memo that Sleyman had "identified, groomed, and sexually abused multiple minor victims both online and in-person" since at least 2017.

She said he sought out children in Minnesota and in other states and countries; one victim received a harassment restraining order that still did not halt Sleyman's pursuit.

Taylor wrote that investigators reviewed "tens of thousands of lines of chat messages across multiple Snapchat accounts" and found that Sleyman repeatedly relied on scripts tailored to victims' ages, interests and gender. She said he lied about his age, often adopting the identity of a male victim groomed in North Dakota at 15 years old.

"He built false relationships with minors seeking child pornography depicting them, and his online exploitation of minors laid the groundwork for his ultimate goal: Sleyman wanted to sexually assault minors," Taylor wrote.

From August 2021 through July 2022, according to court documents, Sleyman coerced one teenage girl to meet him for sex. The victim told authorities that she was 13 at the time of their first encounter and that the sexual assaults continued at hotels in Sherburne, Anoka and St. Louis counties, as well as at Sleyman's apartment in Bloomington.

Sleyman continued to pursue the girl despite her parents' intervention and police involvement, including picking her up from home and a family cabin at night. Late one night in July 2022, Elk River police responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle when Sleyman had the girl with him. According to court documents, he lied to police that he was the girl's uncle and was taking her home.

After fleeing to Abu Dhabi, Sleyman continued to message the girl despite a restraining order. When she did not respond as desired, he made a public social media post trying to shame her with false allegations while tagging her local high school.

Sleyman also pursued a 15-year-old girl who was reported missing by her family in 2022. The girl later told authorities that she felt obligated to give into his demands for sex because he gave her marijuana and a place to stay after she had run away from home. She, too, received messages from Sleyman in Abu Dhabi in which he told her not to talk to police or to give them fake information if interviewed.

"Sleyman's manipulation and predation is far beyond that of a typical child exploitation defendant," Taylor wrote. "Here, Sleyman coordinated on a massive scale to constantly cultivate relationships with children across states online to facilitate his manipulation of them both online and in person."

Hillary Parsons, an attorney representing Sleyman, asked Frank to impose a 25-year sentence while federal prosecutors sought 45 years. Parsons pointed out that the case was Sleyman's first brush with the criminal justice system and that he expressed "extreme remorse for his behaviors and acknowledges that his actions have cause indescribable harm to his victims."

Parsons wrote that Sleyman grew up in an "extremely conservative" household in the UAE "where he never developed the full socialization skills that he needed to be an actualized adult male."

Parsons said Sleyman immigrated to the United States and moved to Moorhead, Minn., when he was 19. She said he struggled in college because of "mental health issues and difficulties in school," and spent an "excessive amount of time playing video games online as he struggled to make connections in the real world."

Parsons said Sleyman's online activity "worsened" when he dropped out of school and that he "has had no meaningful adult relationships."

"He is in desperate need of therapy and treatment to delve into his sexual issues as he is unable to adequately verbalize his transition from a lonely, depressed young adult to a man who sought sexual attention from minors online," Parsons wrote.