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Published December 04 2010

West Fargo police investigate reported rape of 15-year-old girl

West Fargo police are investigating the reported rape of a 15-year-old girl at her home Thursday night.

The girl’s mother left to run a shopping errand just before the sexual assault occurred, and the girl’s father wasn’t home, West Fargo Assistant Police Chief Mike Reitan said.

The attacker reportedly entered the home through the unlocked front door, went downstairs to the girl’s bedroom, assaulted her and left out the front door in an unknown direction, Reitan said.

Police have no suspects, and they don’t know if the attacker left on foot or in a vehicle, he said.

The girl’s younger siblings were home at the time but weren’t aware of the assault, Reitan said.

The assault was reported in the 500 block of Ninth Avenue West, in a somewhat secluded neighborhood bordered by the Sheyenne River to the east and Elmwood Park to the south.

Police believe the assault happened between 9:45 and 11 p.m., Reitan said. The girl told her mother about it when she arrived home, and the mother called police at about 11:20 p.m.

Reitan said investigators collected a number of items as evidence from the bedroom, including clothing and bedding, and officers canvassed the neighborhood to look for other evidence, including footprints and tire tracks in the snow.

The victim said she didn’t know her assailant, he said.

She was taken to a local hospital to be examined.

The attacker was described as a white male, 6 feet tall, with dark-brown hair, a beard and a blue tattoo and wearing a brown jacket and jeans.

Reitan said police “do not believe that there is immediate danger to others in the community.”

Asked if the attacker may have been watching the home and waiting for an opportunity to strike, he said, “We certainly have to look at all possibilities.”

“It’s important for people to remember to secure their residence, lock your door even when you’re home, to prevent unauthorized entry,” he said.

Anyone who saw anything suspicious or has information about the suspect is asked to call the West Fargo Police Department at (701) 433-5500.

The last high-profile sexual assault involving a home invasion in West Fargo occurred Nov. 15, 2005, when Michael Jerome Waller Jr., then 24 years old, raped a 73-year-old woman who had just come into the house from taking out the trash.

Waller received a life sentence that called for him to first serve 22 years in prison, with the balance of the sentence suspended for 10 years of supervised probation. He also received a 10-year sentence for a burglary charge and must register as a sex offender for life, according to Forum archives.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528