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A former longtime law enforcement officer has been charged in federal court with six sex crimes against two girls. 

Francis "Frank" Kistler was arrested Aug. 16 after being indicted on two counts each of attempting to sexually exploit a minor, attempting to do so using the internet, and transferring obscene material to a minor.

The 60-year-old from Edgemont is accused of committing the crimes between Jan. 1, 2019, and July 15 and using his cell phone and computer to send obscene material to two girls under the age of 16, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Dakota.

After Kistler pleaded not guilty Aug. 19 at the federal court in Rapid City, Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann ordered him released from jail but said he must follow a curfew, use electronic monitoring, undergo mental health treatment and take prescribed medicine, court records show. Wollmann also ordered him not to be in contact with anyone under the age of 18, leave South Dakota, possess weapons or access the internet. 

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Kistler is being investigated by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation. He has until Oct. 4 to reach a plea deal or go to trial Oct. 22. If convicted, he could be sentenced to as many as 30 years for the attempted sexual exploitation charges that carry a minimum punishment of 10 years in prison. The obscenity charges have a 10-year maximum sentence. 

Kistler most recently worked as a Fall River County sheriff's deputy assigned to Edgemont but was fired after about a year on the job, according to Sheriff Robert Evans.

Kistler went to Custer High School and worked as a mechanic in the U.S. Navy from 1979-1990, according to his LinkedIn page. He began his law enforcement career in 1991 as a reserve deputy in Custer County, according to a March 2019 article in the Fall River County Herald. He also worked in Eagle Butte and Charles Mix County in South Dakota, and in New Mexico and Oklahoma.

He was involved with the student anti-drug DARE program in Custer County "working with the young people and helping them achieve their highest goals," according to Kistler's LinkedIn.

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— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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