St. Paul neighbors want answers, not tips after kidnapping and rape

- St. Paul police and Catholic Charities fielded dozens of tough questions Thursday, after a 7-year-old girl was kidnapped and sexually assaulted at Catholic Charities St. Christopher Place last week. The public meeting, hosted by St. Paul police, was billed as a community question and answer session and an opportunity for police to offer tips on how to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

“As young as they are, we have to teach them to be safe,” said SPPD Crime Prevention Coordinatior Pam McCreary.

But about 30 minutes in, many in the audience started voicing their disappointment in the presentation. One woman claimed to be very close family friends with the victim and her parents. She said she was hurt and angered that police would be offering parenting tips instead of answers as to what went wrong.

“She has some of the best parents I’ve ever known. This has nothing to do with missteps on their part. They did nothing wrong,” she said. “She didn’t have time to scream--he just snatched her off the street.”

The suspect in Thursday’s kidnapping and sexual assault, Mark Meihofer, was prosecuted in Anoka County in 2011 for offering a 13-year-old girl $10,000 for sex. A judge found Meihofer mentally unfit to stand trial. The charge now shows up on his record as ‘not guilty’ although he was committed for the crime.

In August 2015, the owner of a Cathedral HIll montessori reported Meihofer to police for suspicious behavior around children. He was questioned, a report written, but never cited.

Thursday, police said in the last week they have uncovered 5 other incidents they believe were Meihofer. Four of the reports were calls of a suspicious person. One of the reports was that of indecent exposure. In the exposure charge, he gave a fake name and did not have identification on him.

“This person had 5 calls on him being creepy. I know you can’t arrest someone for being creepy, but is there a threshold?” said one community member.

Questions also turned to Catholic Charities CEO Tim Marx.

“You’re really great as a CEO--youre a great dancer--but we need specifics,” said community member Connell Johnston.

According to court documents, when police arrived at St. Christopher Place Thursday looking for the missing girl, an “employee confirmed that a man had brought a girl matching that description into the building.”

Marx said the ongoing investigation wouldn’t allow him to comment on specifics of the incident. He did say they are increasing security, adding staff, and telling employees to be much more attentive when someone brings a child into the building.

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