A central Minnesota nursing home employee wanted in the rape of a mentally and physically diminished resident has been tracked down and now faces several felony counts.

David E. DeLong, 59, of Pine River, has been charged in Crow Wing County District Court with sexually assaulting the 78-year-old resident of Minnesota Heritage House in Pequot Lakes in May.

Shortly before Christmas, police turned to the public for help in locating DeLong after he failed to show up for a court appearance in October. Police said they were worried that he would commit a similar crime while a fugitive.

Police Chief Eric Klang said Wednesday that a tip from a fellow nursing home employee led authorities to DeLong, and he was apprehended. DeLong appeared before Judge Erik Askegaard and was released on his own recognizance, with conditions including that he not have contact with the victim. DeLong remains free ahead of a March court appearance.

Assistant County Attorney Janine LePage requested bail of $15,000, with conditions, and $50,000, without conditions. However, “the court did deny our office’s request,” said Lydia Marohn, an official with the county attorney’s office.

“That’s ridiculous,” Klang said, referring to the lack of any bail required before DeLong was set free. “He’s a real sick guy. [His victim was] totally helpless and couldn’t protect herself.”

The resident is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s and can only get around in a wheelchair, the criminal complaint against DeLong noted.

“She is mostly nonverbal and unable to answer questions or comprehend the situation,” the complaint read, “except to answer some questions with yes and no responses. She is unable to feed herself, requires around the clock full care and currently receives hospice services.”

A telephone message was left Thursday with DeLong’s attorney seeking response to the charges.

According to the complaint:

Sometime after 9 p.m. on May 8, a police officer went to the nursing home and learned that one of the staff members “essentially interrupted” DeLong in the act of raping the woman in her room.

The staff member said she knocked on the resident’s door, entered and saw the woman on her side in the fetal position, naked from the waist down. DeLong, sweating and breathing heavily, had his pants and underwear halfway down his legs. He was struggling to pull them up.

The home’s director spoke with DeLong on the phone, and he denied raping the resident.

Bedding from the woman’s room and her clothing were sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for examination, as was a DNA sample provided by DeLong. DNA in the semen taken from the woman matched DeLong’s DNA, the BCA concluded.

Details from a separate investigation by the Minnesota Department of Health, which regulates nursing homes, also implicated DeLong in the rape and cleared the home from any responsibility for the attack. State investigators said DeLong had passed a criminal-background check before being hired, went through all of the proper training and was immediately suspended from his job upon being accused of the rape.