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Afton man accused of sexual assault

An Afton man was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct after a woman accused him of abusing her when she was 8 years old.

Charles Arthur Bell, 61, appeared in court Feb. 13 on the charges, which each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $40,000 fine.

Washington County investigators first received a report on Bell in September 2012 after a 20-year-old woman came forward with allegations of sexual molestation.

The woman told authorities Bell - a man she knew through family ties - sexually assaulted her when she was 8 years old, according to a criminal complaint.

The complaint states Bell touched the girl sexually before forcing her to perform a sex act on him.

The woman showed authorities a text message exchange she had in September 2012 with Bell, where she described the incident and told him "I can't even look at myself in the mirror."

A text response from Bell described in the complaint stated "I am truly sorry for many of my past transgressions. My younger years were filled with things I can't take back, should not have happened and will affect many lives for years to come. I can only hope that the good I've done will somehow outweigh the bad."

Bell was released from Washington County jail on Feb. 13 on bail terms that called for either $25,000 without conditions or $3,000 on conditions that he have no contact with the alleged victim and not possess firearms.

He returns to court on April 24.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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