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Bozeman man accused of traveling with intent to have sex with 12-year-old girl pleads guilty

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Posted at 10:52 AM, Apr 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-13 12:52:34-04

A Bozeman man who law enforcement says traveled with the intent to have sex with a juvenile pleaded guilty to charges on Thursday, April 13, 2023, according to U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich.

Court documents say Zachary Vernon Stephens, 34, was under investigation for allegations he was stalking someone in the Bozeman area when law enforcement learned he had been communicating with a 12-year-old girl in Utah.

The government alleged in court documents that communications between Stephens and the girl were sexually explicit. The messages also allegedly discussed a previously planned trip of Stephens to Utah in July 2021 to engage in sex acts and indicated the two had also met for sex acts in Nevada in June 2021.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto presided, and sentencing is set for Aug. 24 before U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen.

Stephens faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to a lifetime of supervised release.

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