A Story County District Court judge did not err when he allowed into evidence Facebook posts found on the account of an Ames man who was later found guilty in connection with an attempted child abduction in 2015, the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled this week.


The appeals court’s on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Akuk Akok, who was sentenced to 27 years in prison on charges of child stealing, first-degree burglary and assault while participating in a felony. The charges were the result of a May, 22, 2015, incident in which he was accused of entering a home on the city’s west side and removed a child through a basement window. He was stopped once the victim’s sister chased him out of the yard. A jury found him guilty of the charges in January 2017, and he was sentenced the following March.


In his appeal, Akok claimed District Court Judge Michael Moon abused his discretion when he admitted into evidence messages sent from Akok’s Facebook account. Akok argued there was no proof he created the messages.


In its decision, the appeals court wrote that state evidence laws allow for such messages to be authenticated based on “distinctive characteristics,” such as “appearance, contents, substance, internal patterns, or other distinctive characteristics of the item, taken together will all the circumstances.”


The court wrote that the judge presiding over Akok’s case met that threshold in allowing the Facebook posts to be admitted into evidence at trial.


“The trial court noted that the Facebook messages were sent from the account of a person identifying himself as Akuk Akok,” the court wrote. “The specific messages … were sent from an internet protocol address associated with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics during a time when Akok was being diagnosed and treated there.


“The court determined this circumstantial evidence was sufficient to make a … showing of authentication,” the court wrote. “Because a sufficient … case of authenticity was made, we find no abuse of discretion.”