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Horse rancher in child porn case accused of sexually abusing teen girls

It started as a child pornography investigation in 2014, when law enforcement was tipped to two files of lewd images uploaded to Christian Clews’ cellphone.

A search of the Carmel Valley horse ranch he operates and calls home found more — 841 images and 619 videos of child pornography, many depicting prepubescent youth in sadism and bestiality.

Prosecutors allege the investigation unearthed even more darkness at the ranch — a 25-year history of Clews sexually abusing, manipulating and controlling teenage girls.

Clews, 52, denies the abuse allegations, and he has not been charged with crimes of exploitation. But as he stood in San Diego federal court Tuesday to be sentenced for one count each of possession and distribution of child porn — crimes he pleaded guilty to — the claims of abuse dominated the proceeding.

Two women who said they were abused by Clews addressed the court, describing how he had targeted them as vulnerable teens and coerced them into a sexual relationship with him, causing significant psychological damage. Prosecutors allege he filmed at least three teenage victims engaged in sex acts and can be heard directing the action using vulgar, degrading language.

“This conduct has been going on for years,” noted U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw, describing Clews’ actions as a “long-standing campaign of predatory contact.”

In the end, the judge sentenced Clews to 17½ years in prison for each count, citing Clews’ strong work history and community involvement as mitigating factors.

The terms are to be served simultaneously and are just under the 20-year maximum for each child porn charge. He was remanded into custody immediately.

Clews was raised on a working horse and cattle ranch, according to his online bio. He has been operating the Clews Horse Ranch since 1992, offering boarding, horse training and trail rides. He also was a member of the Carmel Valley Community…

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