Details of affair with patient in state sex offender program came to light after therapist was fired for incompetence.
She signed love letters to a state sex offender by drawing a heart and writing: “Your Baby Girl.” She professed her love forever to the man she described as her soul mate, acknowledging their relationship was filled with “red flags.”
That steamy correspondence was made public Friday after the woman who wrote the letters, a psychologist at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter, was fired for incompetence in a case that soon revealed she had been carrying on a relationship with one of her patients.
The documents, released by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, show how a woman assigned to help rehabilitate some of the most dangerous sex offenders in Minnesota crossed professional boundaries and fell in love with a man once deemed by a court examiner as a “true psychopath.”
Amy Bronswick, who is in her early 40s, told the confined sex offender, Shannon English, that she wanted to be his wife and wrote that she would be his “rock” as “we wade the turbulent waters together.”
Bronswick was fired before her behavior “became a serious problem on the unit,” said Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). “But you can see that attachment was formed and is now continuing. So, clearly [it was] a serious breach of her professional responsibility.”
Bronswick did not respond to a request for an interview Friday. Barry said her behavior does not reflect the quality of work of other employees in the program. She said the agency does not plan to change any policies based on the incident.
Bronswick went to work as a provisional psychologist for the program last June, helping treat sex offenders in a job that paid $33.99 an hour.
Barry said the state terminated her March 7 for performance problems and, in the process, discovered the relationship. Troubled by the violation of state and professional guidelines, state investigators examined Bronswick’s office carefully, but determined there was no sexual contact between the psychologist and her patient.
Officials became suspicious of the relationship when a supervisor was escorting Bronswick from the building following her termination. She was fighting back tears, and said one of the clients was going to be upset.
The agency began an investigation, and over the course of the next month, Bronswick left phone messages for English at the treatment facility and wrote love letters — all intercepted by officials at the St. Peter facility. Records show that on some days she called English more than six times and at one point told him she wanted to have his baby when he completed treatment.
The state treatment program, housed at St. Peter and Moose Lake, holds 684 of the state’s worst sex offenders. Court records from English’s case show a history of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, including forced sexual contact with a 13-year-old in 1995 when he was 19.
Bronswick seems to want to continue her clinical work. In mid-March, she contacted DHS for a reference letter. Barry called the situation “frustrating.”
“My reaction is she intends to work in a field that requires boundaries and therapeutic relationships, yet she continues a relationship with a former client,” Barry said. “I see that as problematic and I hope others do, as well.”
Reporter Paul McEnroe contributed to this report. Brad Schrade • 612-673-4777