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ST. LOUIS - A 48-year-old south St. Louis man is accused attempting to rape a woman earlier this week.

Tommy Darrell Bell is charged with first-degree attempted rape.

According to the probable cause statement, the victim noticed a man, later identified as Bell, while she was walking in the 3900 block of Pennsylvania Avenue around 8:50 a.m. Tuesday. The woman said she passed Bell, and when she reached her home she noticed he was behind her.

Bell is accused of running up the steps in front of the woman's home, and started struggling with her.

The woman told officers she ended up on her back, screaming and kicking her legs in an attempt to get away from him.

Police say Bell pulled the woman's pants down to her ankles, getting one of the pant legs completely off.

Family members of the victim heard her screams and opened the front door, which police say prompted Bell to run from the scene. He was taken into custody about a block away and was identified by his clothing and physical description.

Bell was previously convicted of first-degree robbery, two counts of armed criminal action, first-degree assault, and first-degree burglary in Greene County in 1992. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the assault, robbery, and armed criminal action charges, and five years in prison for burglary. In 1998 he was convicted of second-degree burglary in Butler County and sentenced to three years in prison.

Authorities suspect Bell is responsible for a rape earlier Tuesday morning in the 3900 block of Keokuk, but charges have not been filed in that incident.

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