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Mission man accused of sexual abuse of children

| April 25, 2024 12:00 AM

A St. Ignatius man is accused of arranging to meet a minor girl for sexual intercourse. Charles Henry “Pete” Zeiler, 47, entered a plea of not guilty in Polson District Court April 10 to sexual abuse of children.

According to charging documents, on Oct. 30, 2023, an agent with the FBI set up a software program that records text messages in his cell phone. The purpose was to record images of advertisements posted on social media, similar to classifieds in a newspaper.

The agent set up his own advertisement seeking sexual interaction on the site. The site described itself as “classified services for people wanting to meet now.”

On Nov. 14, 2023, a phone number with the 406 area code messaged the agent, who was posing as a 15-year-old girl. The 406 number was allegedly traced to Zeiler.

The messages sent by the 406 number described specific sex acts and asked if the “girl” did drugs. The 406 number also sent a nude picture and requested one in return before setting up a time to meet in Missoula. Another message from the 406 number indicated the meeting was not going to happen due to the sender’s child being sick.

Zeiler was on probation stemming from a conviction related to domestic charges in 2022. Judge Molly Owen set the new case for trial on Sept. 16. Zeiler’s bond is set at $25,000.