SIOUX FALLS, SD -
One of Minnehaha County's Most Wanted is behind bars. Drake Wendel, 22, was arrested Thursday night in Madison on a first degree rape charge.
Wendel is accused of raping a seven-year-old girl who was being cared for by his girlfriend at the time who was the child's full-time nanny.
"First degree rape is a serious offense but it even makes it more atrocious when the victim is a seven-year-old," Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office Sergeant Jason Gearman said Friday.
Court documents say the nanny's new boyfriend was playing with the seven-year-old when she told him, 'Don't be like Drake.' When he questioned the girl about the comment she said that Wendel would take her pants off and touch her. An affidavit goes on to say that during an interview with Child's Voice the girl said it happened 'lots of times.'
Wendel was interviewed by police in October. He denied that he touched the girl but he did say he would be left alone with her for up to two hours at a time.
After more investigation authorities issued an arrest warrant for Wendel more than a month after that interview. They placed Wendel on Minnehaha County's Most Wanted list, and with help from the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation and Madison Police, authorities found Wendel after their investigation led them to Mitchell and then to a relative's house in Madison.
"With the information in Mitchell it led to Madison where the strongest leads were and that's where he was found. He had been hiding in Madison a couple weeks according to him," Gearman said.
Wendel is being held in the Lake County Jail. If he's found guilty, he could be heading to prison for the rest of his life.
Wendel is expected to appear in court Monday.
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