Taopi man accused of rape fails to appear at first hearing

(ABC 6 News) – A Taopi man faces criminal sexual conduct charges now that the Minnesota BCA claims DNA evidence links him to a rape case two year after the assault.

Manuel Cruz Rivera, 26, was scheduled to appear in Mower County Court Monday on charges of 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct–use of force or coercion and 4th-degree criminal sexual conduct–use of force or coercion.

According to Mower County Court documents, in early September of 2021, a juvenile female reported to Austin police that Rivera had raped her.

The juvenile claimed that on Aug. 29, 2021, she and an adult male went to a party with Rivera and his girlfriend, then the pair accepted a ride home from him.

According to court documents, the juvenile told police the other man got sick, and Rivera began groping her despite her refusals.

The juvenile said she got out of the car eventually, but Rivera followed and raped her.

The juvenile provided clothing to Austin police and St. Mary’s Hospital completed a rape kit, which the BCA tested.

According to court documents, when Austin police spoke to Rivera in September of 2021, he allowed police to take a DNA sample and said he had not touched the juvenile, so his DNA could not be found on her or her clothing.

The BCA test results returned Aug. 9, 2023 allegedly revealed the presence of DNA evidence matching Rivera, according to court documents.

Rivera did not appear for his first hearing scheduled for Oct. 2, 2023, according to Minnesota Court Records Online.