Northland corrections officer faces charges for allegedly having sex with inmateA 56-year-old corrections officer from Tower faces seven charges related to allegedly having sex with a female inmate, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Itasca County District Court.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
James Allen Bongaarts is accused of multiple acts of sexual misconduct with a female inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Togo, also known as Thistledew and located between Cook and Bigfork off Minnesota Highway 65.
The court filed seven felony criminal sexual conduct charges based on admissions from Bongaarts and the inmate that they had sex several times in the past two months.
Thistledew is an alternative incarceration facility that began in 1955 as a forestry work camp for young offenders. It continues with programs for children in trouble from age 13 to 17. In 2004, the facility began a six-month boot camp program for non-dangerous adult women offenders.
Bongaarts has been employed there for two years.
According to the complaint, the inmate has been at the facility the past five months and told an investigator Thursday that she had sex or attempted sex with Bongaarts 10 times, the latest occasion being Wednesday. The investigator reported that the inmate said she had sex in a storage area at the camp.
Bongaarts was interviewed Thursday and, according to the complaint, admitted to having sex or attempting sex several times with the inmate. Bongaarts is reported to have said that on Wednesday the two were in the camp weight room when the inmate took his hand, put it on her crotch and indicated she wanted to have sex later in the day.
The complaint doesn’t indicate what triggered the investigation, only saying that a state investigator received information that an inmate was “sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by a guard.”
Bongaarts is in Itasca County Jail and will make a first appearance in court Monday.
Each felony count carries penalties of seven to 15 years and fines of $15,000 to $30,000.