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'A Real Systemic Failure': Red Wing Juvenile Inmate Sues Over Alleged Sexual Abuse By Officer

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Allegations of sexual misconduct at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Red Wing has led to the firing of an employee, and sparked a civil lawsuit on behalf of the young victim.

The lawsuit claims the former corrections officer groomed the teenager for a sexual relationship. Attorney Josh Rissman says the sexual abuse of his client took place from September of 2015 through January of 2018.

"The allegations are that she began giving him a lot of favors to gain his trust, and that's something you see very commonly with sexual abuse victims is that it doesn't start right away. It starts with kind of a grooming period," Rissman said. "The allegations, you know, are that it began with kissing and with groping, molestation, so sexual contact."

Rissman says there were others who were suspicious of the relationship between the two of them. The Minnesota Department of Human Services launched an investigation that found violations of the facilities policies and procedures -- and more than one victim.

Documents show the employee was then moved from being a corrections officer to a teaching assistant, where she wouldn't have as much contact with the inmates. The employee in question was then fired from her job in the spring of 2018.

"We don't know what she's doing now," Rissman said. "We're not aware of any criminal charges that have been filed against her."

Others listed in the civil lawsuit are supervisors of the former Department of Corrections employee, who Rissman says had a duty to protect his client, but did not.

"We feel like there was a real systemic failure by Red Wing to, you know, make sure this got to the right people and to make sure that it stopped," Rissman said.

The Department of Corrections does not comment about active litigation but in a statement, but Commissioner Paul Schnell said, "We take seriously our responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of youth and adults in our care, custody and control."

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