Son of Hennepin County sheriff charged with sex crimes

Published 9:00 pm Thursday, June 1, 2017

MANKATO — The son of Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek has been charged with trying to solicit a 13-year-old for sex and possessing child pornography.

Ryan James Stanek, 24, of Maple Grove, was charged with four felony counts Wednesday in Blue Earth County. He’s due in court June 22.

According to the criminal complaint, some of the pornographic images found on the cellphone he used involved children as young as 3.

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The investigation started in late March when the father of a young adult woman reported to the Sibley County sheriff’s office that Ryan Stanek was sending her sexual text messages. The sheriff’s office called in the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The complaint alleges the defendant asked the woman to find girls for him to have sex with, and expressed interest in her 13-year-old cousin.

Investigators posing as the woman and the girl set up a meeting in the parking lot of a Mankato mall, and arrested him there May 19.

Sheriff Stanek, who had been considering a run for the GOP nomination for governor, announced the next day that he would seek re-election as sheriff instead.

He didn’t mention his son’s arrest at the time, but said in his statement that his work to address the crisis of untreated mental illness, reduce violent crime, build trust between residents and law enforcement, and fight the opioid epidemic “has become personal to me and to my family.”

The sheriff issued a statement Wednesday night saying the phone on which the child pornography was found was held by his campaign committee and that he was paying all the bills for the phone with his personal funds.

“Ryan is an adult and is accountable for his own actions. Like all parents, we love our son and are providing him with the support that we hope will help him deal with the challenges in his life,” Rich Stanek said in the statement.

Court records don’t list an attorney for Ryan Stanek who could comment on his behalf. His criminal record includes convictions on drug, drunken driving and speeding charges.