La Crescent man faces prostitution charges
A La Crescent man stands accused of attempting to hire an underage female prostitute in Rochester.
Mark William Bell, 50, is scheduled to make his initial appearance in Olmsted County District Court on Sept. 22. He was charged Aug. 6, 2014, with one felony count of prostitution-hire 13 to 15 years old.
Bell could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Olmsted County District Judge Joseph Chase set Bell's conditional bond at $2,500 last week.
According to the criminal complaint, Bell responded to an ad placed on Backpage.com by the Rochester Police Department on July 17, 2014.
Bell allegedly sent multiple text messages asking for "an hour or so of fun." When the suspect expressed a desire for sex, the undercover officer directed him to a 15-year-old friend.
According to the complaint, Bell continued to text the undercover officer and eventually asked for nude photos of the underage female, which were sent, according to the complaint. The parties arranged to meet in Rochester around 6 p.m., with Bell saying he would bring $200.
Bell allegedly texted the undercover officer at 6:19 p.m. saying he was near Dover, but then the conversation stopped and he never arrived. Officers said they traced the phone number back to Bell, including calling on a different line to confirm his identity.
An investigator from Rochester arranged to meet with Bell at the La Crescent Police Department after he failed to arrive during the sting operation. According to the complaint, Bell confirmed that he "had responded to ads for prostitution services on backpage and craigslist for the last couple of years."
He initially denied that he'd attempted to hire a 15-year-old female for sexual contact in Rochester. However, he admitted to it after being shown text messages by the investigator, the complaint said.