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A man pleaded guilty Friday to attempted enticement of a minor using the internet, a year after he was ordered to undergo mental health treatment because of questions about his competence to stand trial.

Ryan Lee Balster, 31, of Rapid City faces 10 years to life in federal prison and up to five years of supervised release. His sentencing date is pending.

At the Rapid City federal courthouse Friday morning, Balster admitted texting a 15-year-old girl a sexually enticing message, as well as sending a nude photo of himself that was received by an undercover law enforcement officer. He then arranged a meeting for sex with what he thought was the girl.

His defense attorney, Erin Bolinger, told Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann that a clinical psychologist has found Balster mentally competent to face his charges.

“He’s very clear on what he wants to do,” Bolinger said, adding that Balster often just needs legal matters re-explained to him.

The plea-change hearing, which usually lasts 15 to 20 minutes, took an hour, with Bolinger repeatedly paraphrasing the judge’s questions and declarations.

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In 2009, Balster pleaded guilty to the federal offense of travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. He was sentenced to 120 days in prison, which was served in a non-prison facility, and seven years of supervised release. His attorney at that time was cited in a Worthington, Minn., newspaper report as saying that Balster had mental deficiencies as a result of a low IQ, but that he was found to be capable of participating in his own defense.

As part of Balster’s current plea deal, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss the revocation of his supervised release. He is detained at the Pennington County Jail.

Contact Tiffany Tan at

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal