Ryan James Stanek, the adult son of Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, has been charged with four felonies for allegedly trying to solicit a 13-year-old to have sex with him and for possessing child pornography.

Some of the pornographic images found on the cellphone he used involved children as young as 3, according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in Blue Earth County District Court in Mankato.

Stanek, 24, lives in Maple Grove. Late Thursday, his father, who announced May 20 that he will run for re-election in 2018, issued a statement saying that the phone used in the matter was held by “the Stanek Volunteer Committee” and that all of its bills are being paid by him.

The investigation into Ryan Stanek’s activities started in late March when a man told the Sibley County Sheriff’s Office that Stanek had been sending sexual text messages to his “young adult daughter,” the court documents said. The Sheriff’s Office enlisted the help of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

According to the criminal complaint: Stanek used the name “Nick” when texting the woman, the charges say. He told her to create social media profiles in two different apps listing her age first as 17 and later as 16, and to find girls ages 8 to 17 for him to have sex with. He wanted the woman to participate in the sex acts, too, he said.

One text from Stanek to the woman read, “I want a girl who’s 8 to 12 y.o.,” the charges say. The woman asked, “What do you mean by that,” and Stanek responded, “a young girl to play with you and me.”

Stanek asked the woman if she had any neighbors or cousins that age. When the woman sent him a nonsexual picture of her 13-year-old cousin, Stanek said he wanted to have sex with the girl.

Eventually, investigators posed as both the woman and the 13-year-old girl and communicated with Stanek via text and e-mail, the charges say.

Stanek then contacted the investigator who was posing as the girl via e-mail. He asked for photos and arranged to meet the woman and the girl in the parking lot of a mall in Mankato on May 19. He described what he wanted to do with the girl and told her, “I’m ok with your age,” the charges say.

When Stanek texted the woman and girl that he was at the meeting site, police arrested him without incident.

After obtaining a search warrant for the phone, investigators found searches related to child pornography, photos of nude children as young as 3 years old posed in sexual positions and photos of child pornography involving animals.

Stanek is charged with soliciting a child to engage in sexual conduct, soliciting a child through electronic communication to engage in sexual conduct, engaging in electronic communication relating or describing sexual conduct with a child, and possessing child pornography. He was charged by summons and is to appear in court June 22.

Stanek has been in trouble with the law in the past. In 2015, he was sentenced to a year of probation after pleading guilty to fourth-degree drunken driving. He was charged the year before with damaging a tree and a horse trail while four-wheeling at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve near Delano.

In a statement, Rich Stanek wrote, “Ryan is an adult and is accountable for his own actions. Like all parents, we love our son and are providing him with the support that we hope will help him deal with the challenges in his life.

“The account for the cell phone involved in this matter is held in the name of the Stanek Volunteer Committee. I continue to pay the bills for the phones on the account that are used by members of my family with my personal funds.”