Weather Forecast


Jasper man arrested in Internet crimes case

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A Jasper man arrested in Sioux Falls, S.D., has been charged in federal court with traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

Ryan Lee Balster, 22, of Jasper, was arrested Thursday night when he drove to Sioux Falls to meet what he thought was a 12-year-old girl. But the girl he was chatting with online turned out to be an undercover officer -- part of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit from the Sioux Falls Police Department.

Balster allegedly signed in on an instant message site and chatted with the "girl," asking her if she wanted to see and play with him sexually. He asked her for sexual favors, and they discussed meeting.

Posing as the girl, the officer wrote, "u will rely com all the way to c me??"

According to the criminal complaint, Balster was going to meet her that night, but logged in later to postpone the meeting for a day.

He made arrangements to meet her in a park and said he would drive a tan car with a busted headlight and wear a blue striped shirt.

When he arrived at the park, authorities were there to greet his tan car, and he was taken into custody.

During an interview with officers, he allegedly admitted to chatting online with an unknown female who said she was 12 years old. He also admitted to arranging a time and place to meet the girl to have intercourse and to driving to Sioux Falls from Jasper for that purpose.

Balster made an initial appearance Friday in U.S. District Court, when a detention hearing took place. Balster was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service, where he will remain until the hearing can be reconvened. According to federal documents, that hearing will not be reconvened until a mental evaluation is conducted to address the court's concerns regarding Balster's mental status.

U.S. Magistrate Judge John Simko wrote in a detention order that he found no combination of conditions that would reasonably assure the safety of others in the community from similar offenses, nor could he assure Balster's presence at further proceedings.

U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota Marty Jackley stated Monday the Sioux Falls Police Department handled the initial investigation as part of the ICAC unit. Currently, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is working with the police department.

Next, Jackley said, the case will go to either a preliminary hearing or an indictment phase.

Jackley would not say specifically why this case was sent to a federal court.

"Obviously, there are state line issues," he explained, "but that doesn't preclude the state authorities from cooperating in legal matters."

The reasons a case is handled federally can include a number of things, he added, including the defendant's conduct, criminal history and the maximum penalties involved.

Balster currently faces a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine. In Minnesota, his previous convictions consist of traffic fines and a disorderly conduct plea from 2004.