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Man accused of raping woman in Sioux Falls abuse shelter

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SIOUX FALLS (AP) — A Sioux Falls man is accused of breaking into a shelter for domestic abuse victims and raping a woman while her child slept nearby.

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Authorities allege that Heath Big Eagle, 47, entered the woman's room at the shelter through an unlocked window between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Monday, forced the woman to take methamphetamine and sexually assaulted her.

The Associated Press does not identify victims of sex crimes.

Big Eagle faces second-degree rape and first-degree burglary charges, along with violating a protection order. Judge John Hinrichs set bond at $50,000 cash during Big Eagle's initial court appearance on Tuesday. Big Eagle did not immediately enter pleas. He could face up to 75 years in prison if convicted.

The My Sister Friends House shelter issued a statement calling the alleged incident "an extremely rare occurrence at a shelter dedicated to providing safety and support to victims of domestic and sexual violence."

"We know that no one program or agency can do this alone," said the statement issued by shelter Director Sarah Johnson. "No one program or agency can provide safety 100 percent of the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We ask for the support and commitment of all community members to end violence against all women and children, as well as men who are victims of domestic and sexual violence."

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