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Police are searching for a van after a sexual assault at gunpoint

The woman was walking to a restaurant when the masked man sexually assaulted her.

Police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a woman at gunpoint in St. Paul Tuesday night.

The 41-year-old woman told police she was walking down Payne Avenue to a St. Paul restaurant around 11:30 p.m. when a man in a minivan drove by and asked her if she needed a ride, Steve Linders of the St. Paul Police Department told GoMN.

The woman ignored him and kept walking, but the man – wearing a ski mask and holding a handgun – approached on foot. He threatened her and ordered her back to his van, then sexually assaulted her according to police. The suspect drove a short distance, then told her to get out of the vehicle.

Officers saw her running across Case Avenue around 11:45 p.m., and brought her to a local hospital.

The man is described as 6 feet tall, black, and with a medium build. He wore a baseball hat over a stocking cap, black pants and a lighter-colored coat over a sweatshirt. He drove a tan or light-colored minivan that has automatic sliding doors on both sides, and was described as "very clean" with no rust. See the photo above from the police department.

Police are investigating, and asking anyone who may know something to call police at 651-266-5685.

Sexual assault in Minnesota

There were 186 reported forcible rapes and 19 assault to attempt rape reports in St. Paul in 2015, according to the city's annual crime report.

In the entire state, there were 2,300 registered rapes last year (that includes both rape and assaults to attempt rape), the most recent Minnesota Uniform Crime Report shows. Of those, 2,179 were reported as completed, while 121 were attempted rapes.

Most of the time a victim is raped or sexual assaulted by someone they know, information from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows. (This is also the case for other nonfatal violent crimes like robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault.)

Of all the nonfatal violent crimes committed by strangers in the United States from 2001 to 2010 (the most recent data available), rape or sexual assault accounted for just 2 percent, the agency says.

RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) breaks down how victims of sexual assault and rape know their attacker, finding 21 percent of sexual assaults are committed by a stranger. Click here for more information.

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