Corrections officer charged for sexual contact with teen inmates

9:03 AM, Apr 18, 2010   |    comments
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Walstrom's booking photo from the Goodhue County Jail.

RED WING, Minn. -- The Department of Corrections says it put a corrections officer on leave and the Goodhue County Attorney has filed criminal sexual conduct charges against the same woman.

The Red Wing Republican Eagle reports 37-year-old Suzanne Marie Walstrom of Plum City, Wis., is facing one charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for sexual contact with teenage male inmates.

The paper reports Walstrom is accused of forcing a 17-year-old boy to touch her sexually and with fondling a second boy who was also 17.

Shari Burt, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections (DOC), says Walstrom has been on paid, investigatory leave since March 15.  Burt says the DOC has an open investigation into Walstrom's conduct, but can't comment on what lead to the investigation.  DOC investigations are separate from any local criminal investigations.

Burt says Walstrom does have a disciplinary history that includes three suspensions since November.  She says Walstrom, who was hired in April 2008, was suspended without pay for one day on Nov. 28, 2009, for failure to report arrests or receipt of criminal summons and for boundary issues with offenders.

Then on Dec. 14, 2009, Walstrom was again given one day off without pay for not keeing the DOC informed of progress of a criminal case.  The Republican Eagle reports that Walstrom was charged last September with a felony fifth-degree drug possession after she allegedly called in fake prescription drug requests to a Red Wing drug store.  She allegedly told police she was "caught up" with using pain medication.

Burt says Walstrom was suspended again on Jan. 22 this year and this time, she was given five days off without pay.  That suspension was for staff misconduct regarding boundary issues with an offender, failure to provide adequate direct supervision of offenders and to share relative information with facility staff.

Burt says the three suspensions in three months show a serious response to Walstrom's case and conduct.

The Republican Eagle says the latest felony charges came to light after a 17-year-old inmate at the Red Wing facility told a prison investigator about contact with Walstrom.  He told police how they had exchanged sexual innuendo and that she forced him to touch her sexually.

The paper reports the complaint says Walstrom also tried to carry out a romantic relationship with the boy's friend, another juvenile inmate.  That inmate told investigators that he and Walstrom touched each other sexually at various places in the facility.

The Republican Eagle says Walstrom was charged on Wednesday and booked into jail on Friday.

Burt says Red Wing houses adults and juvenile offenders in separate populations are there are about 140 juveniles in the facility.  All of them are male, with an average age of 17.

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