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BCA informant said agent sexually assaulted her; Minnesota paid $117K

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Minnesota BCA
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in St. Paul, July 25, 2012.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR News 2012

Updated 5:19 p.m. | Posted 5 p.m.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety in 2015 paid $117,500 to a woman over sexual pressure she said she endured by a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent.

The woman's identity was withheld because she worked for the BCA under an assumed name as a confidential informant. There was no admission of wrongdoing in the settlement, a common feature of the agreements reached by state agencies over harassment allegations.

In a federal lawsuit, the woman said she became an informant after a BCA drug raid in 2010. According to her complaint, she agreed to help with other cases the agency was working on, but the agent regularly invoked her immigration status and began making sexual advances toward her.

The woman said he sexually assaulted her and exchanged illicit text messages with her. The agent, in his own legal filings in the case, denied assaulting the woman. In the state investigation, he admitted to sending the text messages but said he was "role playing."

After an internal investigation over several department violations, the agent was suspended for 30 days without pay in 2015.

"I remain hopeful that this suspension will serve to show you how serious your actions are and that these actions must be corrected," the agent was told in a letter from BCA Superintendent Drew Evans handing down the punishment.

The information came to light Friday as part of a state data request by MPR News  and other media regarding sexual harassment payouts by state government agencies. The data show Minnesota agencies have paid out $709,000 in settlements since 2015 related to seven sexual harassment cases.

Court documents released by the state on Friday indicate that the agent indicated he would help the informant obtain legal immigration status in exchange for her continued assistance with drug busts.

In June 2012, according to the court records, the agent picked up the informant on the premise that he needed to talk to her about her role in a new drug bust but then while driving slid his hand up her thigh and did told her he wanted to have sex with her. She refused and told him to stop. Later, she alleged he demanded oral sex and then attempted to have sex with her.

Later, the agent threatened he would not help her with immigration status until she sent him nude pictures of herself.

In 2013, the court record said the woman ended up in federal deportation hearings and asked the agent for help but that he refused to sign the papers acknowledging she was an informant that would allow her to remain unless he had sex with her.

In the disciplinary document from BCA released on Friday, the investigator wrote that the inquiry supported a finding that the agent used his state-issued cell phone to ask the informant for sexually explicit photographs, which she eventually sent, and to access porn sites.

  The agent "discredited the agency by engaging in sexually explicit communication with (informant), including requesting and receiving sexually specific text messages and photographs."

Responding to questions about the matter, the BCA said the agent is now a special agent in the agency's investigations unit and that he was demoted from senior special agent to special agent following his suspension and that he no longer works with confidential informants.

The BCA agent, the state commissioner of public safety and the attorney for the accuser did not respond to requests for comment.

A Minnesota Management and Budget spokesperson said late Friday that the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office investigated the case at the request of the state Public Safety Department. Findings were sent to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, which declined to press charges. 

The spokesperson added that a federal Justice Department office also conducted its own criminal and administrative investigations, "which concluded prior to the release of this investigation report."

MPR News reporter Peter Cox contributed to this report.