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Byron man charged with felony prostitution

A Byron man made his first appearance Monday in Olmsted County District Court, where he's been charged with one felony count of prostitution-agree to hire 13- to 15-year-old.

Mark Joseph Donovan, 62, was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court May 27.

The charge stems from an incident that began Jan. 13 with an advertisement placed in the escort section of an online classified ad website. The ad was placed by an undercover Rochester police officer as part of a sex trafficking investigation.

The next day, the officer received a text message from a phone number later identified as Donovan's, the complaint says. During the initial contact, Donovan said he'd pay for a 26-year-old woman and a "15 almost 16-" year old, agreeing to wear a condom with the younger woman so she wouldn't get pregnant, court documents say.

The texting continued through Jan. 19 and 20, reports say, with Donovan repeatedly asking for photos and talking about prices for services. He allegedly said he had an extra room at his house, and the "escort" and her friend could stay with him for free — but they couldn't bring men to the house.


Donovan arrived at a Rochester hotel for the arranged meeting on Jan. 20, the complaint says, and texted the officer that he'd arrived.

Donovan was arrested at the scene. He allegedly admitted he was trying to get a 26-year-old and 15-year-old to come to his house, but he wouldn't have had sex with them.

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