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Russellville man charged with molesting girl he met on dating app

Russellville man charged with molesting girl he met on dating app

September 20th, 2017 by Associated Press and News Tribune in Local News

Authorities say a Russellville man molested an 11-year-old girl from Republic he met using the MeetMe dating app.

Twenty-one-year-old Joseph Meili pleaded not guilty to charges of child kidnapping, statutory sodomy and statutory rape at his arraignment this week. The girl provided her address while using her mother's phone to exchange messages with Meili in July.

Meili allegedly went to the girl's house in July and drove her to a Springfield apartment, according to the probable cause statement. Police say a search was underway for the girl while she was being sexually assaulted. Officers, firefighters and sheriff's deputies knocked on doors, searched nearby woods and attempted to locate the girl by pinging her cellphone.

The girl returned home later that day and was found in her bedroom late that night, packing a bag to leave again. She said she had fallen asleep while at the apartment and woke up, feeling as though something sexual had happened. She subsequently tested positive for chlamydia.

Meili told authorities he met up with a girl, but her page on the app showed that she was 18 years old.