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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Montana

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Transporting a Minor With the Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity

***In order to protect the privacy of the child victim in this case, the United States Attorney’s Office is requesting that the media not disclose the victim’s name or display an image of the victim when reporting this story. We are aware that her identity and images were released to the public in the course of the Amber Alert. This is simply a request, and we understand that the decision is ultimately left to your discretion. Please do not hesitate to contact our Public Information Officer below with any questions.***

MISSOULA – Rodney Lee Zahn, 61, formerly of Madison County, Montana, was sentenced today in federal court for transporting a child in interstate commerce with the intent the child engage in criminal sexual activity, namely sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree. Zahn pleaded guilty to the charge on January 30, 2017. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen sentenced Zahn to 120 months in prison. Following his release, Zahn will be placed on supervised release for 10 years. Zahn is also required to pay $ 773.04 in restitution to the victim, and forfeit his Ford pickup truck and camper that was used to transport the minor victim out of Montana.

In an offer of proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson, the government stated that in late July 2016, Defendant Rodney Lee Zahn befriended a family in Sheridan, Montana. This included the family’s 16-year old daughter. Due to a diagnosed intellectual disability, the child cannot make sound judgments and is at risk of being manipulated by others. On the night of August 1, 2016, Zahn met the child a few blocks from the family’s residence. Zahn and the child left Sheridan that night in his truck pulling a camper trailer. After discovering she was gone the next morning, the child’s family reported her missing. On August 4, 2016, law enforcement located Zahn and the child in Casper, Wyoming. Zahn was arrested and was interviewed. Zahn admitted that he and the child left Montana, and drove through Idaho into Wyoming. Zahn admitted that he and the child had sexual intercourse twice during the trip. Zahn also stated that he knew the child was 16 years old.

Madison County Sheriff Roger Thompson stated, “It was highly unfortunate that Mr. Zahn decided to make the decision he did that created such a grave concern for the family. Getting the victim back safely was a great outcome. The cooperation and assistance the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) provided to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office was tremendous and deeply appreciated.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation Ricky Shelbourn stated, “Rodney Zahn took advantage of a family’s trust and generosity, only to manipulate and victimize their daughter. The FBI aims to protect society’s most vulnerable from predators like Zahn. The effort is greatly enhanced because we work closely together with our law enforcement partners. In this case, inter-agency collaboration was integral to our finding the victim within 48 hours from her disappearance.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cyndee Peterson and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, and the Casper Wyoming Police Department.

Keri Leggett Acting Public Information Officer (406) 761-7715
Updated May 18, 2017