ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Prosecutors here have charged a 34-year-old truck driver who was arrested Monday, Aug. 19, near Downer, Minn., after authorities received text messages from a 15-year-old girl in his semi saying she had been sexually assaulted.
Kenneth George Zehnder, of Lexington, Mich., faces a felony count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from the incident, according to documents filed Wednesday, Aug. 21, in Stearns County District Court.
At 10:23 a.m. Monday, Otter Tail County authorities began receiving text messages from the victim who reported that she had been sexually assaulted in a semi, court papers show.
Law enforcement officials located the semi and pulled it over on Interstate 94 in Downer, Minn., about 20 miles southeast of Moorhead. The victim was found inside the semi and was taken to a nearby hospital, according to a Clay County Sheriff’s Office report.
The victim told authorities Zehnder forced her to have sex when they pulled into a rest area for a break on Monday morning, court papers show.
The victim said Zehnder continued to drive after the break and that she decided to text 911 after the incident, court papers show.
The victim told authorities she and Zehnder, who both knew each other, had been traveling together for a week. The victim further alleged that Zehnder sexually assaulted her at various times during that week and had previously sexually assaulted her in Michigan, court papers show.
Clay County authorities turned the investigation over to the Stearns County Sheriff's Office upon learning the assault took place in Stearns County. Zehnder is currently being held at Stearns County Jail in St. Cloud, Minn.
Zehnder appeared in Stearns County District Court on Wednesday where a judge set his bail at $100,000 with no conditions and $40,000 with conditions. A phone message left for his attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday.