MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The son of Hennepin County’s sheriff has been charged with four felonies, including soliciting a child for sex and possessing child pornography.
The Blue Earth County Attorney’s office says Ryan James Stanek, 24, was charged Wednesday in connection to an investigating that started in late March.
The criminal complaint says a man went to authorities on March 29 to report that a man named “Nick” had been sending sexual text messages to his daughter.
In the messages, which began on March 7, the man asked the young woman to find girls for him on social media for sexual encounters.
He asked the woman to first set up a social media account as a 17-year-old girl, which would allow her to communicate with minors.
The man, later identified as Stanek, asked for nude photos of the woman, and for her to find girls who would send photos of themselves in underwear.
He said in one series of messages that he was looking for girls between 8 and 12 “to play with you and me.”
The complaint says Stanek asked the woman for a picture of any underage neighbor or relative of hers. After sending a non-explicit photo of her pre-teen cousin, Stanek remarked that he wanted to have sex with her.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and Sibley County investigators were given permission from the woman to use her cellphone to continue communications with Stanek on May 15.
A BCA agent began corresponding with Stanek the next day, and soon set up a plan to have him meet with the woman and her 14-year-old cousin at a Mankato mall with the expectation that he would have sex with both of them in his truck.
Stanek pulled up to the mall on the evening of May 19 and was immediately arrested. Law enforcement say he had a “freshly laid out blanket” in the back seat.
The complaint says Stanek admitted to investigators his plan to have sex with an underage girl.
His iPhone was seized at the arrest scene, and investigators say they later found sexually-explicit photos of children, some who appear to be as young as age 3.
He could face up to 11 years in prison if convicted. His first appearance in court is slated for June 22 in Blue Earth County.
His father, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, released this statement Wednesday night:
My son Ryan was charged today with a crime in Blue Earth County District Court. This was the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The account for the cell phone involved in this matter is held in the name of the Stanek Volunteer Committee. I continue to pay the bills for the phones on the account that are used by members of my family with my personal funds.
Ryan is an adult and is accountable for his own actions. As parents, we will continue to assist him to do what we can to help guide him.
Like all parents, we love our son and are providing him the support that we hope will help him deal with the challenges in his life.