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Former Idaho Man Sentenced for Sexual Exploitation of Student

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BOISE (AP) — A former Idaho man on the run for a decade before being arrested in Spain in July on child exploitation charges involving a German exchange student has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

The U.S. Attorney's Office on Wednesday said 47-year-old Gerald Lee Ferrell received the sentence in U.S. District Court in Boise. Judge B. Lynn Winmill also ordered Farrell to serve 15 years of supervised release.

Ferrell in March pleaded guilty to interstate travel with a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He also pleaded guilty to possession of sexually explicit images of minors.

``This defendant preyed upon a vulnerable foreign exchange student, new to this country, who did not speak English as her first language,'' U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said in a statement. ``The sentence imposed by this Court, some ten years after Mr. Farrell committed his crimes and fled Idaho for Switzerland, should send a clear message that perpetrators of these crimes cannot run and cannot hide.''

Court records say Farrell and his wife hosted a 16-year-old German exchange student in August 2003. Prosecutors say Farrell made attempts to see the girl naked and engaged her in sexual conversation.

At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors introduced evidence that Ferrell installed hidden cameras in the girl's bedroom and a bathroom she used. The cameras, prosecutors said, captured images of her changing her clothes and going into and out of the shower.

In the plea agreement, court records say, Farrell in December 2003 took the girl to Nevada. She said one night she woke up with Farrell on top of her trying to remove her underwear.

When she returned to Idaho she told others what happened and deputies with the Ada County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant on Farrell's home in Eagle on Jan. 4, 2004, seizing computers and other items. Ferrell and his wife fled to Switzerland about a week later.

The plea agreement said the computer contained video files of children under 18 engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Those images didn't include the German exchange student.

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