The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 19, 2013

Man accused of molesting girls

Abuse brought to light by mandated reporter

By Dan Nienaber

---- — MANKATO — Felony sexual assault charges have been filed against a 33-year-old Hutchinson man who is accused of molesting two girls while he was living in Mankato several years ago.

A Blue Earth County child protection employee contacted the Mankato Department of Public Safety in October after a mandated reporter identified Ryan Jacob Zeppelin as someone who had possibly sexually abused the girls. The victims had told that person Zeppelin had repeatedly touched them sexually about five years ago.

Both victims, who were under the age of 13 at the time, said the behavior stopped after they told someone what was happening. Their relationship to that person was censored in the criminal complaints that were filed Wednesday in Blue Earth County District Court.

Based on that information, a Mankato detective arranged interviews with the Midwest Children's Resource Center that he observed on Oct. 11. During those interviews both victims said they were sexually touched by Zeppelin, but not when they were together. One of the victims also said Zeppelin would use a washable pen to draw on her back and around her vagina and she would draw around his penis. They would then shower together and wash the drawings off, the complaints said.

The detective also interviewed the person the victims told about the abuse. The victims told the detective they talked to the woman together after they both realized they were being abused. That woman told the detective she picked Zeppelin up from work after the girls talked to her and confronted him. She also said Zeppelin admitted to touching the girls and promised he wouldn't do it again.

Zeppelin was interviewed by the Mankato detective at the Hutchinson Police Department on Oct. 17. He told the detective he was living in an apartment in Mankato until about 2009.

"When asked about the situation, Zeppelin stated it was a very big mistake on his part and at the time he was depressed and had no friends," the complaints said.

The detective also reported Zeppelin admitted to putting his had down the victims' pants, but denied touching their genitals. He also told the detective he and the one victim would draw on each others' hands and legs before getting into the bathtub with their shorts on to wash the ink off, the complaint said.

Zeppelin is scheduled to make his first court appearance for the charges on Jan. 16.