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Published January 16 2004

Authorities charge North Dakota man with rape in case of missing Fargo woman

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - After a five-day search, a man found here with a mentally disabled North Dakota woman has been charged with rape.

David Sukup, 38, of Jamestown, N.D., also faces a charge of having sexual contact with a person incapable of giving consent, police said Friday. He was scheduled to make his initial court appearance Friday afternoon.

The woman's mother had reported her daughter missing Saturday night, which is when the couple arrived in Sioux Falls, Det. Loren McManus said Friday.

The mother said her 22-year-old daughter's mental ability is that of a 6-year-old.

FBI agents and state and local police in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Nebraska searched for the pair, who were found Thursday in a central Sioux Falls apartment with two people whom Sukup knew, McManus said.

"I can't tell from this report why they came here," he said. "It appears the victim had gone willingly with Mr. Sukup."

The woman's family took her back to North Dakota Thursday night. "She's back in their care and custody," he said.

Sukup had moved to North Dakota after his release last February from a Lincoln, Neb., prison, where he served two years for attempted rape.

He said he had intended to marry the woman and begin a new life with her in Sioux Falls.

"All I want is to be with her, and she wants to be with me," Sukup told The Forum of Fargo, N.D., in a telephone interview Thursday. "I love her with my whole heart, and I will do everything I can to fight to try to keep us together."

McManus said Sukup is a registered sex offender. The detective said he didn't know how Sioux Falls police were contacted but that the law enforcement communications center was told the woman was at the Sioux Falls apartment.

Out of concern for her well-being, she was taken to a hospital, where she said the two had sex, McManus said.

Sukup was not held right away but was arrested at least four to five hours after officers found the pair, the detective said.

"He was not detained at that time because the disclosure about sexual contact had not been made until she was being checked out by doctors," McManus said. "Up until she made that disclosure, he was not a suspect."

The maximum penalty for a conviction of rape of a person incapable of giving consent is 25 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Conviction of sexual contact can bring a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.