A corrections officer at the Hennepin County workhouse is a convicted sex offender, but because he was hired before the county acknowledged that sex offenders should not be working in jails, he'll remain on staff.
Dale Blom, 51, was convicted in 1991 of impregnating a 14-year-old girl in Monticello. The girl's father called the cops the day after she had given birth, stating the father was then-27-year-old Blom.
According to the criminal complaint, the girl told police that Blom was her stepfather's brother, who had temporarily moved into her family's house. She said the sex was consensual.
Blom was sentenced to six months in prison conditional upon 15 years supervised probation. In 1998, halfway through that probation, Hennepin County hired him to work in the adult corrections facility.
Five years after that, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to study how often rape occurred in prisons and under what sort of circumstances. In 2011, prison administrators reported 8,763 allegations of sexual abuse, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. About half involved staff misconduct.
As a result, the new law prohibited hiring sex offenders in detention facilities. Hennepin County complied -- with Blom's help. He sat on a committee overseeing the implementation of the standards.
Blom declined to comment.
"Under state law, a criminal conviction is not an automatic disqualifier for public employment," says Chester Cooper, director of Hennepin County Community Corrections and Rehabilitation. The county considered the nature of Blom's offense and decided he was rehabilitated enough to work as a corrections officer. "He has been an excellent employee for more than 15 years."
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