Will County Man Arrested on Federal Charges for Allegedly Transporting a Minor From Iowa To Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity

CHICAGO — A Will County man has been arrested on federal charges for allegedly transporting a minor to Illinois from Iowa to engage in criminal sexual activity.

RYAN ZELEK, 28, of Wilmington, Ill., is charged with one count of production of child pornography and one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.  The FBI on Tuesday arrested Zelek and conducted a court-authorized search of his residence.  A detention hearing in federal court in Chicago is set for Friday at 1:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel A. Fuentes.

The arrest and charges were announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI.  Valuable assistance was provided by the Wilmington, Ill., Police Department.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate McClelland.

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Zelek communicated with the 13-year-old girl on the social media application Snapchat.  On July 30, 2021, Zelek drove to Iowa, picked up the girl outside of a movie theatre, and drove her to his home in Illinois, where he sexually abused her, the complaint states.  Zelek allegedly used his cell phone to record part of the sexual encounter.  Zelek then drove the victim back to Iowa, the complaint states.

If convicted on the count of producing child pornography, Zelek faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum of 30 years.  If convicted on the transportation count, Zelek faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years and a maximum of life.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

If you believe you are a victim of sexual exploitation, you are encouraged to contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by calling 1-800-843-5678 or logging on to www.cybertipline.com.

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