The man arrested over the 2016 sexual assault of a 5-year-old will go to court in connection with the attack — but cannot be charged as an adult.
Police said Friday the 19-year-old suspect is responsible for sexually assaulting a girl while she was at a St. Paul bus stop the morning of May 2, 2016. A recent DNA match finally provided a break in the long-running investigation, and the man was taken into custody in Illinois earlier this week.
But because the suspect was 13 years old at the time the sexual assault occurred, he cannot be criminally charged as an adult. Instead, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office said Friday it filed a delinquency petition against him, comprising one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of kidnapping.
In a statement, the attorney's office acknowledged the case is "disturbing," but noted that under Minnesota law, children under the age of 14 cannot be charged with a crime.
"As a result, we have filed a delinquency petition and will not be able to pursue adult certification proceedings," the statement explains.
The suspect's age also means the petition and all court proceedings are considered non-public.
He could still be ordered to register as a sex offender, however.
"We are grateful for the diligent work of the Saint Paul Police Department for pursuing every lead, including the DNA evidence that led to this individual," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi in a statement.
"I especially want to call out the work of my staff attorneys who worked closely with police investigators every step of the way and were able to bring forward the delinquency petition to seek accountability to the fullest extent of the law, and closure for our victim and community."