A 16-year-old from Rochester who was arrested last Friday on fourth- and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges was sent back home to live with his mother, according to Capt. Jim Schueller of the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office.
The suspect was pulled over just after midnight when a deputy working a drunk driving detail spotted the boy’s vehicle traveling 60 mph in a 40-mph zone, weaving in and out of traffic. His blood alcohol content was over the legal limit, according to Schueller.
“These kids — there is no place to put them and there are no consequences,” Schueller told Alpha News.
Since the suspect is a juvenile, his name and full criminal record are private. Schueller decided to speak out on the case because it’s a “perfect example of why we need a [juvenile detention center].”
Olmsted County closed its 16-bed juvenile detention center in 2020. It was the only juvenile facility in an 11-county area in southeast Minnesota, according to the Rochester Post Bulletin. There are now 70 counties with no juvenile facility, often forcing agencies in Greater Minnesota to transport suspects to metro-area detention centers, the Post Bulletin said.
Schueller said nobody asked for the sheriff’s office’s input before the facility was closed.
“14 different places were contacted and nobody would take him,” Schueller said of the 16-year-old. Most facilities were either full or not accepting out-of-county placements, he said.
“His mom is at the end of her rope and she doesn’t want him back,” Schueller added.
But on Monday, a judge ordered the 16-year-old back into his mom’s custody and put him on an ankle monitor, according to Schueller, who said the boy already cut off a bracelet in July.
Schueller said the suspect should have been incarcerated from the beginning on the sex-crime charges, but there was nowhere to put him. The warrants were issued after he removed his ankle bracelet.
“This is the worst I’ve seen in the juvenile system,” said Schueller, who’s been with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office for 23 years.
“There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “I don’t see it changing.”