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Man accused of breaking into Winona County home, raping woman repeatedly

Robert Zane Pederson

WINONA, Minn. – A Winona County grand jury has indicted a Spicer man for criminal sexual conduct and other charges for allegedly breaking into a home in that county in November, raping a woman repeatedly and threatening her child while carrying a gun.

Zane Robert Pederson, 30, of Spicer, has been held on $1 million bail in the Winona County Jail since March, when DNA analysis was used to link him to the alleged crime.

Bail was increased to $2 million at a hearing Friday in Winona County District Court, despite an effort by his public defender to have him released on his own recognizance with home monitoring. He will be arraigned on the new charges April 24.

Pederson is also charged with criminal sexual conduct in Kandiyohi County for an alleged sexual assault against a man who lived in a group home where Pederson worked. He has not made a court appearance in that case, to which he was also linked by DNA evidence.

The Winona County indictment lists seven felony charges – two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of first-degree burglary, one count of kidnapping, one count of false imprisonment and one count of threats of violence.

The indictment states that the alleged crimes included heinous elements, such as extreme inhumane conditions, torture and being armed with a dangerous weapon.

According to court records, Pederson is accused of breaking into a woman’s home while wearing a mask and carrying a gun early Nov. 16. The woman was allegedly raped three times over several hours while her child was in the home. The perpetrator allegedly threatened the woman and threatened to hurt her child.

According to the Winona County criminal complaint, the woman heard sounds in her house at about 1 a.m. In the light from her phone, she saw a man with a mask, holding a gun, at the foot of her bed.

According to the complaint, Pederson at one point threatened to go to her child’s school and kill the child. The woman told him she would do anything to protect her child, and he told her to prove it.

Pederson allegedly talked about using the woman’s own gun to kill her so that a family member would be blamed.

When the woman begged for her and her child’s lives, Pederson allegedly told her he was “a rapist, not a monster” and claimed the threat was a joke.

Between the three alleged assaults, Pederson would tell her not to move and would move around in her home. At one point, he allowed her to use the bathroom and check on her child. During the third alleged assault, he placed a handgun by her face on the bed.

Before leaving, Pederson allegedly tried to destroy evidence. The woman later found that an article of her clothing was missing.

During a search of Pederson’s home and property earlier this year, investigators say they found clothing like that worn during the assault, a loaded handgun and the article of clothing that had been taken from the woman’s home.