Cole Howard Debell, 20, Pierz, was sentenced in Morrison County District Court to 25 years of probation on Dec. 30, 2020, after being convicted for one felony count of soliciting a child to engage in sexual conduct and another felony count of selling a controlled substance to a person under 18 years old.

The sexual conduct conviction stems from an incident that occurred on Sept. 25, 2019, while the sale of a controlled substance occurred on Oct. 11, 2019.

The criminal complaint regarding the earlier incident states that on Sept. 25, 2019, the Little Falls Police Department was contacted by a concerned father who said his two children, both of whom were under age 12, were watching pornography with an adult male, identified as Debell.

During an interview with one of the children, the child told a Morrison County social worker that Debell had — on 10 to 50 occasions — watched inappropriate videos on his phone and TV in the presence of the children. The child also said Debell had showed his “private part” on one occasion, and that Debell had asked to see the child’s “private part,” but the child had walked away.

During an interview with the social worker, the other child confirmed Debell showed the children inappropriate videos. The child added that Debell had offered the child $30 to commit a sexual act. During an interview with the social worker and law enforcement, Debell admitted to offering one of the children $30 to commit a sexual act. He also admitted that one of the children may have seen his “private part” on one occasion, but it was not intentional.

A gross misdemeanor charge stemming from the incident was dropped as part of the plea agreement.

According to a separate criminal complaint, on Oct. 11, 2019 — 16 days after the initial offense — a deputy with the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office received a report that the parents of a runaway juvenile located some prescription drugs with the name “Cole Debell” on the bottle in their child’s bedroom. The prescription was for amphetamines — a Schedule II drug that cannot be possessed without a valid prescription.

When confronted by the deputy about the pills, Debell claimed he did not know how the runaway juvenile obtained his prescription bottle. He denied having a current prescription for the pills, and also said he did not know the location of the juvenile.

The following day, the deputy was informed that the runaway had returned home. He went to the juvenile’s residence and asked about Debell. The juvenile admitted to getting a ride from Debell to St. Cloud the previous day and then was dropped off at a residence in Little Falls.

When asked about Debell’s prescription bottle being found in their bedroom, the juvenile stated that Debell had talked another juvenile into selling the pills for him so he could make some money. The juvenile admitted they transferred the pills to a vitamin container and then brought them to school and gave them to another juvenile. The juvenile said they were not paid for doing so, but another juvenile was selling them and paid Debell directly.

Later that day, the deputy met with Debell a second time and, when confronted about the lies in his previous statement, he admitted to giving the juvenile a ride to St. Cloud. He also said he gave the juvenile some pills because he needed money. Debell said his intent was for the juvenile to give the pills to another juvenile, who would sell them. He advised that he was paid $100 for the pills he provided.

A second felony charge of soliciting a juvenile to commit a criminal act was dismissed as part of Debell’s plea agreement.

He faces up to 44 months combined in the St. Cloud Correctional Facility, minus 31 days for time served, if he does not comply with the conditions of his probation. Debell must also register as a predatory offender.

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