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CROWN POINT — Harold G. France, a 61-year-old man with a history of sexual violence spanning decades, was charged Friday in Lake Criminal Court with sexually assaulting a girl at knife point in East Chicago.

France allegedly assaulted the girl as she walked from a friend's home 8:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in the 3900 block of Main Street, according to a probable cause affidavit.

He allegedly dragged the girl into an alley by her neck and forced her to engage in sexual activities while holding a knife to her throat.

He was charged Friday in Lake Criminal Court with two counts of rape, attempted rape, criminal confinement, armed robbery, intimidation and battery by means of a deadly weapon.

A different man, Jerome J. Watson, 32, was initially charged in the girl's sexual assault after she identified him as her attacker in a photo lineup. The state dismissed charges against Watson Jan. 25 after DNA testing excluded him as a suspect.

The East Chicago Police Department was notified Jan. 31 DNA collected during a sexual assault examination of the girl matched to DNA from France.

France already faces rape, criminal confinement and intimidation charges on allegations he sexually assaulted a woman three days before the girl's sexual assault.

The woman told police France, a tenant in her apartment building in East Chicago, forced her into his apartment Oct. 13 and sexually assaulted her at knife point.

He was charged in that sexual assault Feb. 7.

As previously reported, France has been charged in five sexual assaults since 1972, most recently in 2014.

He allegedly raped and choked a woman July 14, 2013, in an abandoned house in East Chicago. Nine months later, he allegedly forced a man to perform oral sex on him at a Hammond hotel.

He was charged in both incidents, but pleaded guilty in February 2017 to two counts of criminal confinement and sentenced to time served in jail awaiting trial. He was not required to register as a sex offender as a result of his convictions.

France was arrested on a warrant Feb. 9, according to court records. A plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf Feb. 14. His next court hearing is April 11.

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Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.