RED WING - Allegations of trysts with teenage male inmates could lead to time behind bars for a 37-year-old Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing corrections officer.
Goodhue County prosecutors on Wednesday charged Suzanne Marie Walstrom, Plum City, with third-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
She is accused of forcing a 17-year-old boy to touch her sexually and of exchanging sexual fondling with a second male who was 17 at the time.
A Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Walstrom was placed on investigatory leave on March 15.
The charges represent the second set of felonies Walstrom has been charged with in the past year.
In September, she was charged with two counts of fifth-degree drug possession after allegedly phoning in false prescription requests to a Red Wing drug store. Walstrom allegedly admitted to falsifying the prescription requests, telling Red Wing police that she was "caught up" with using pain medication.
The latest charges emerged in March when a 17-year-old MCF-Red Wing inmate told a prison investigator about the alleged contact with Walstrom.
The inmate, identified in a criminal complaint as D.L., later told Red Wing police how he and Walstrom exchanged sexual innuendo at the juvenile facility.
D.L. said that escalated last fall when he and Walstrom found each other alone in the prison's choir room. That's where he said Walstrom forced him to touch her sexually.
According to the complaint, D.L. said he only participated in the act for the attention and that Walstrom was "really not my type."
D.L. said he received preferential treatment from Walstrom, who would allegedly tip him off to upcoming raids and would purposefully ignore contraband in his room when she searched it.
During conversations with the two boys, Walstrom allegedly inferred that her husband was harmed after what D.L. said she termed "a purposeful accident." Walstrom also told the boys that she was gang-affiliated and hailed from Chicago.
The complaint states Walstrom simultaneously also attempted to carry out a romantic relationship with D.L.'s friend, a fellow prisoner and member of the same gang. That boy, identified as D.M., admitted that he and Dalstrom corresponded through letters, which she signed as "Peaches."
D.M. said she signed the phony name to avoid detection.
In the letters, "Peaches" refers to life in the "cottages" - a term used exclusively among workers and inmates for MCF-Red Wing's housing units. Police investigators say handwriting analysis also points to Walstrom as the author of the letters, which contained romantic and sexually graphic passages.
D.M. told police the relationship with Walstrom included the exchange of sexual touch at various places at the prison.
The complaint states offered to bring pain pills for him at MCF-Red Wing, but he declined the offer.
Phone recordings tell a different story. In October 2009, D.M. is heard telling a relative that he has a "connect" - a street term investigators say means a drug supplier.
"Since I got this new connect ... I be getting jars of pills," D.M. says on the recording.
If convicted of all three charges, Walstrom faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison and a $90,000 fine.
She was being held Friday in Goodhue County jail on $100,000 unconditional bond or a $15,000 conditional bond.
Walstrom's next court hearing is May 21.