In Minn., alleged child-on-child sexual assault at casino investigated

By Patrick Condon
Minneapolis, Minnesota (AP) 2-08

Tribal police investigated the possible sexual assault of a 3-year-old boy by an older child at a casino owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, a lawyer for the tribe said.

The suspected assailant is between 8 and 10 years old, said Tadd Johnson, special counsel on government affairs for the band, owner of Grand Casino Mille Lacs in the central Minnesota town of Onamia. The incident happened Jan. 23 at a casino child care care center inside a piece of play equipment that Johnson described as a crawling tube.

A worker noticed bruising on the boy’s body and had his parent paged in the casino. The next day, the parent noticed more bruising and took the boy to a doctor, who concluded that a sexual assault may have happened, Johnson said.

He said tribal investigators identified the suspected assailant from surveillance video, but the tube obscured footage of the actual assault.

“Obviously, the band is extremely concerned about this situation,” Johnson said. “We’re doing everything we can to get a quick and accurate resolution to the case.”

Tribal officials refused to release a copy of their police report.

Jan Kolb, the county attorney for adjacent Mille Lacs County, didn’t return several phone calls from The Associated Press.

Richard Ruohonen, an attorney for the alleged victim, said the child was not a member of the Mille Lacs Band. He called it “unbelievable” that such an assault wasn’t stopped. The 3-year-old suffered bruises on his face, back, and left arm, as well as scratches, and surely cried out, Ruohonen said.

“The family’s main concern right now is to make sure this doesn’t happen to another kid,” he said.

The child care facility is owned and operated by Kids Quest, a private firm that leases the space from the casino. A prepared statement from the company indicated that officials there are “working closely with the tribal law enforcement to gather the details we need to properly address the situation.” A spokeswoman for the company declined to answer any other questions.

Johnson said the Kids Quest centers at both Grand Casino Mille Lacs, and the tribe’s other casino in nearby Hinckley, had been closed at least until the tribal investigation ends.