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Justice News

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Montana Man Pleads Guilty to Transporting a Minor with 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, 60, formerly of Sheridan, Montana, pleaded guilty today in Missoula federal court to transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. He faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years to ­­­­­­life, up to $250,000 dollars in fines, and not less than 5 years of supervised release. He also agreed to forfeit the Ford pick-up truck and camper used to transport the child across state lines. U.S. District Court Magistrate Jeremiah C. Lynch presided over the change of plea hearing and set sentencing for May 18, 2017, in Missoula.


In court documents, federal prosecutor Cyndee Peterson stated that if called upon to prove its case at trial, the United States was prepared to demonstrate that in July of 2016, Zahn befriended a family in Sheridan, Montana, including a 16-year old girl. On August 2, 2016, Zahn and the child covertly left Sheridan. When the family discovered the child was missing, an Amber Alert was issued for the child. Zahn and the child were located in Casper, Wyoming. Zahn admitted he had sexual intercourse with the child twice and stated he knew she was 16 years old. FBI Laboratory analysis of biological kits taken from Zahn and the child were consistent with Zahn’s admissions regarding sexual contact.


This 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.

Human Trafficking
Press Release Number: 
KERI LEGGETT, Acting Public Information Officer, (406) 761-7715
Updated January 31, 2017