Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Northern District of Ohio at Akron.
No. 5:19-cr-00409-1—John R. Adams, District Judge.
Decided and Filed: January 21, 2021
Before: SUHRHEINRICH, GILMAN, and LARSEN, Circuit Judges.
In February 2020, Nelson pleaded guilty to distributing visual depictions of real minors
engaged in sexually explicit conduct, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). At sentencing, the
parties disputed whether Nelson’s prior Ohio conviction for attempted rape of a minor qualified
as a predicate offense for a sentencing enhancement under 18 U.S.C. § 2252(b)(1). Ultimately,
the district court concluded that the enhancement applied, and it sentenced Nelson to the
enhanced statutory minimum term of 180 months of imprisonment.
On appeal, Nelson argues that his prior offense for attempted rape does not trigger the
§ 2252(b)(1) enhancement because an attempt offense does not require a defendant to have
physical contact with a victim.
“[We] review de novo a district court’s legal conclusion that a prior conviction triggers
a mandatory minimum sentence.” United States v. Gardner, 649 F.3d 437, 442 (6th Cir. 2011).
Section 2252, a federal statute prohibiting the sale, distribution, and possession of child
pornography, includes a sentencing enhancement that applies to offenders with a prior conviction
“under the laws of any State relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual
conduct involving a minor or ward.” 18 U.S.C. § 2252(b)(1). An offender sentenced under the
§ 2252(b)(1) enhancement is subject to a mandatory 15-year minimum sentence. Id.