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Press Release

Bozeman man admits traveling with intent to engage in sex with a juvenile

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

MISSOULA — A Bozeman man suspected of traveling to other state to have sex with a juvenile admitted to charges today, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Zachary Vernon Stephens, 34, pleaded guilty to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. Stephens faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to a lifetime of supervised release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided. Sentencing was set for Aug. 24 before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Stephens was detained pending further proceedings.

In court documents, the government alleged that in September 2021, while investigating Stephens on allegations of stalking a person in the Bozeman area, law enforcement learned that Stephens had been communicating with another individual, a 12-year-old girl, who was in Utah. Electronic communications between Stephens and the girl, identified as Jane Doe, were sexually explicit and discussed a previously planned trip of Stephens to Utah in July 2021 to engage in sex acts with Jane Doe. The messages also indicated that Stephens had met Jane Doe for sex acts prior to July 2021, including a trip to Nevada in June 2021.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeno B. Baucus is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit



Clair Johnson Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated April 13, 2023

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 23-120