Lawsuit, charges say Red Wing guard sexually abused juvenile inmate

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2011 - 10:44 PM

Suzanne Walstrom was fired last year from the Red Wing juvenile facility. She has been accused of sexually abusing two teenage boys there; one has now sued her.

Suzanne Walstrom already faces criminal charges for alleged sex crimes against two 17-year-old male inmates while she was a guard at the Red Wing juvenile detention center. She now is being sued by one of those 17-year-olds for the alleged abuse.

The allegations in the suit filed Thursday in Ramsey County District Court say: "During the period of incarceration, plaintiff was subject to sexual abuse at the hands of defendant Suzanne Walstrom."

The allegations in the criminal complaints, however, are more detailed. They were filed last year in Goodhue County District Court in Red Wing.

One complaint said Walstrom, 38, wrote several letters to the man who is now suing her, calling herself "Peaches" and saying she wanted him to move in with her and she wanted to have his baby.

The plaintiff told investigators that he and Walstrom began a romantic and sexual relationship in the summer of 2009 when he was 17. He said they had sexual contact about 10 times, with him fondling her breasts under her clothing and her fondling his genitals over his clothing.

One of the letters that the plaintiff turned over to authorities was signed, "My love always, your woman and future wife and baby mom, Peaches."

Although the plaintiff, a Minneapolis man, is now an adult, the Star Tribune does not name victims of sexual assault.

The same complaint said Walstrom also had a sexual relationship with another 17-year-old male inmate. Another complaint said she allegedly forged prescriptions for pain medication, which she handed out to the two.

Walstrom is charged with four counts of third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and two of fifth-degree drug possession. All are felonies and none have been resolved. Her next court date is April 1.

No one answered the phone Thursday at Walstrom's home in Plum City, Wis.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, who turns 19 on Friday, pleaded guilty on Nov. 4, 2008, in Hennepin County Juvenile Court to third-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sent to Red Wing. He was released in August 2010.

Christopher Johnston, the plaintiff's Minneapolis attorney, said, "It's sad to think that when he's in a facility whose goal is to rehabilitate and work with these youths to put them back in society, something like this would happen."

The lawsuit contains 20 counts of assault, battery, fraud and negligence. In addition to Walstrom, it names as defendants Tom Roy, commissioner of the state Department of Corrections, former commissioner Joan Fabian and Otis Zanders, superintendent of the Red Wing facility.

Both adult and juvenile inmates are housed at Red Wing, although separately. As of late last month, there were 38 adults in minimum security and more than 100 juveniles. The facility has 182 employees.

Walstrom was fired by the Department of Corrections on April 27, 2010, said spokesman John Schadl. He said officials have not been formally served with the lawsuit and could not comment.

Pat Pheifer • 612-741-4992

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