- Associated Press - Friday, May 6, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A 47-year-old man was charged Friday for allegedly abducting a 7-year-old girl, carrying her to his room at a boarding house and sexually assaulting her, prosecutors said.

Mark Scott Meihofer was charged Friday with one count of kidnapping and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with Thursday’s assault.

Meihofer is in custody and it wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney. A message left at a phone number associated with him wasn’t returned.

According to a criminal complaint, the girl was with her father in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood when she ran out of a building ahead of her dad and disappeared. The father called 911 and authorities began canvassing the area. Police tracked the man to a Catholic Charities boarding house where he had been staying.

Prosecutors said the man didn’t come to the door when police knocked. As authorities began to remove the door’s hinges he opened it, and police saw the shape of a small child under a blanket on the bed. Police identified the girl and said there was evidence she’d been sexually assaulted. She was bound with tape, gagged and naked from the waist up.

The girl told authorities that Meihofer took pictures, made her smoke and told her he’d hit her with a stick if she didn’t do what he said.

According to its website, the St. Christopher Place boarding house, offers permanent, affordable housing for 71 low income men and women who have been homeless. Catholic Charities said in a statement Friday that it does not accept Level 3 sex offenders - those who are greatest risk of offending again - at any of its locations. The statement called the incident “tragic and unacceptable” and said the organization was working with law enforcement.

Department of Corrections records show Meihofer has no sexual assault crimes on his record. In 2012, the state committed him for 18 months for mental health reasons.

St. Paul police are also investigating an attack on another girl. On Monday, a 5-year-old girl was beaten while she was waiting for a school bus. Another school bus driver found the girl bloodied and crying, and naked from the waist down. Police are investigating whether she was also sexually assaulted. She described her attacker as “a big older boy” whom she’d never seen before and police were still looking for a suspect.

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