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A Bozeman man put inappropriate letters, snacks and flowers on a windowsill and inside a child’s bedroom window at a neighboring residence, police say, and has been charged with felony stalking.

Zachary Vernon Stephens, 32, lives in a condominium next to a family with children, one of whom is a 12-year-old Stephens is accused of stalking, according to court documents. The residence Stephens lived in is connected to the residence the family lives in by a roof, which is accessible from some of the windows in both homes. The family had moved into the home in July and had, at least once, paid Stephens to watch their pets when out of town, documents say.

Near the end of August, the child started getting inappropriate letters on her windowsill. The most recent letter was inside the windowsill with flowers and asked the child to meet in the same spot the note was left, inside the bedroom window, court documents say.

The family also told law enforcement that Stephens made comments to their child that made them uncomfortable and that they no longer allowed the child to bike to or from school or be home alone after school, even for short amounts of time.

Judge Bryan Adams set Stephens’ bail at $50,000 in Gallatin County Justice Court on Tuesday morning and ordered that he have no contact with the child or any other members of the family. The judge also ordered Stephens to stay 300 feet or more away from the family’s home, use a GPS monitor and have no contact with any people under the age of 18.

The case is a felony because of the age of the child involved. Montana law categorizes most first offense stalking charges as misdemeanors but, because the alleged victim is a minor and Stephens is more than five years older than them, it’s categorized as a felony.

If convicted, Stephens could face a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 5 years in prison or both in addition to potential counseling or other restitution costs, according to the Montana Code Annotated.

Future hearings for this case will be held in Gallatin County District Court.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at or at (406) 582-2651.

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