Man held on $2M bail in assault on St. Paul girl; community calls for change

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A man charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl last week has been held on $2 million bail.

Mark Meihofer, 47, was ordered Monday to undergo a psychological evaluation to see if he's competent to stand trial, with KSTP reporting he has criminal history that includes similar crimes.

According to the criminal complaint, Meihofer approached the 7-year-old girl outside of a building on Dayton Avenue Thursday evening, and took her to his apartment nearby.

That's where, charges say, he forced her to smoke something and take her clothes off. He then tied her up with tape, took pictures and sexually assaulted her, the complaint says.

Police arrested Meihofer after finding him with the girl in his apartment, police told BringMeTheNews.

If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison for the kidnapping charge and up to 30 years for the sexual assault charge. But prosecutors plan to push for a sentence that goes beyond state guidelines for the crimes, arguing the victim was especially vulnerable, according to the Pioneer Press.

This incident came the same week as an attack on a 5-year-old girl while she was waiting for the bus.

Last week, St. Paul Police spokesperson Steve Linders told BringMeTheNews it is "highly unusual" for two of these incidents to happen in the same week. Officials haven't said they are connected, but they are looking into it.

The incidents happened about a 10-minute drive from one another.

Community calls for change

Community members are calling for change following the recent attacks, KARE 11 reports. Neighbors told the news station they had complained about a man's suspicious behavior recently – that man was later identified as Meihofer.

The Ramsey Hill Association has scheduled a meeting for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at St. Paul College to talk about their concerns and discuss steps that need to be taken to prevent future attacks on children.

In an effort to keep kids safe, Linders told BringMeTheNews it's important for parents to talk to their kids about "stranger danger" and urge them to run away and scream if anyone is trying to take them – or even if they feel uncomfortable.

The National Crime Prevention Council has tips on how to talk to your kids about strangers.

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