Advertisement

Michigan man charged with sexually assaulting 15-year-old in semi-truck

Updated: August 21, 2019 06:33 PM

A Michigan man is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection to a sexual assault investigation in Stearns County.

A criminal complaint shows that Kenneth George Zehnder, 34, of Lexington, Michigan, was charged in Stearns County District Court on Wednesday.

Advertisement

The complaint states the Ottertail County dispatch center received a text message from a 15-year-old girl at about 10:23 a.m. on Monday, indicating she was sexually assaulted in a semi-truck.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office said the girl was able to text dispatchers she was still in the semi, and that it was traveling west on Interstate 94, along with a description of it. Deputies in Ottertail County and Minnesota State Patrol troopers eventually located the semi and stopped it on I-94 near Downer. Zehnder was identified as the driver of the semi, the complaint states.

Man arrested after woman texts authorities about sexual assault, investigation ongoing


Even though you can text-to-911 in Minnesota, in many parts of the country you still cannot.  Minnesota is one of only five states that currently offer text to-911-coverage statewide.  The other states are highlighted in red below.


The following day, a forensic interview was conducted with the girl, according to the complaint. She told authorities she was sexually assaulted by Zehnder when they pulled into a rest area at about 7 or 7:30 a.m. on Monday, and had also been sexually assaulted at various locations over the past week while they were traveling in the semi-truck. She told authorities she texted 911 a few hours after the assault Monday.

According to the complaint, semi logs and GPS data indicated Zehnder logged himself on break shortly after 8 a.m. about 5 miles southeast of Albany, Minnesota, which would be consistent with a rest area in Avon Township in Stearns County.

If convicted, Zehnder could face up to 30 years in prison, up to a $40,000 fine or both.

Minnesota started text-to-911 nearly two years ago. 

"I think it reinforces for us that we made the right decision to implement text to 9-1-1 in Minnesota and that's excatly why we did it," Dana Wahlberg, with Minnesota Public Safety said. "For those very reasons, when it's either not possible to make a voice call or when placing a voice call would put someone in danger, and in this case I'm sure she felt that she would be in danger if she placed a voice call her perpetrator were able to hear a call for help." 


It might sound simple but there are some things to remember if and when you have to use text-to-911.

Connect with KSTP


Join the conversation on our social media platforms. Share your comments on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.

Credits

KSTP

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Advertisement

Marcy-Holmes residents gather to discuss recent crimes in neighborhood

Gas prices expected to rise after attack on Saudi oil facility

Hennepin County to hold Juvenile Warrant Forgiveness Day and Community Fair

School bus that went missing for hours owned by company with alarming safety record

Man pleads guilty in connection to largest meth seizure in state history

Minneapolis Park Board commissioner eyes possible cuts to park police

Advertisement