Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Staff Report
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

DOC employee charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct


March 28, 2019

Provided Photo

Mugshot of Ashley Youngberg.

Ashley Youngberg, 29, Barnum, has been charged with one count of Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Third Degree for the sexual exploitation in the Department of Corrections facility in Moose Lake. The incidents took place from May 28, 2018 to June 15, 2018.

The charge is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and/or a $30,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint, on June 15, 2018, a Moose Lake police officer was contacted by an investigator of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Office of Special Investigations. The investigator informed the police officer that his office had begun an investigation regarding the possible sexual exploitation of an inmate at the Minnesota Department of Corrections facility at Moose Lake. The suspect responsible for the sexual exploitation of the inmate was employee corrections officer Ashley Youngberg.

The police officer and Moose Lake Police Chief Bryce Bogenholm met with and recorded an interview with the inmate. It was learned that the inmate had been transferred to the Moose Lake corrections facility on May 1, 2018.

The inmate described Youngberg's sexual advances to him and another inmate in a storage room, where they were working, and told them that she would not lose her job for them and would burn them if they tried to hold something over her. She said that she had control over them and that no one ever talked before them.

One inmate left the room, and Youngberg approached the other inmate and began fondling him. The inmate indicated that the encounters took place on or about May 28 and continued on an almost daily basis until June 15.

The victim indicated that he started using a small red-colored pocket calendar to note the dates that the sexual encounters occurred. He provided the calendar to the police officer.

The inmate collected DNA evidence in his underwear after the encounters. He explained that he was concerned about staff members covering up the relationship with Youngberg if it was discovered.

He removed strips from his underwear, folded them in a piece of lined paper, and sent them to his attorney in Minneapolis. He did this in hope that it would help to confirm his part that Youngberg was sexually assaulting him.

The envelope was later returned to the facility as undeliverable and, when questioned by staff, that is when he first reported what had been happening. The inmate later provided a DNA sample and the underwear that he had been wearing to the investigators. The evidence was later sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing.

On June 18, 2018, the police department investigator conducted an interview of the other inmate, the one that had left the storage room when he and the other inmate had first been approached by Youngberg.

He said that Youngberg threatened the two of them, stating that she was not going to bring anything into the prison for them if she found out that they were talking about her and that she would get them into trouble.

That inmate said that he did not know what she was talking about until he learned that Youngberg and the other inmate were in a relationship. He was asked to act as a look-out for them while they were in an interior kitchen supply room.

On June 20, the police officer conducted an interview with Youngberg at the Moose Lake Police Department. Prior to the interview, the officer had obtained a search warrant that allowed him to obtain a DNA sample from Youngberg. During the interview, the police officer did obtain a DNA sample from her and ultimately sent that sample, along with a known DNA sample of the inmate, as well as the underwear and cut strips from the underwear to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for Analysis.

In the interview, the police officer asked Youngberg if she was ever alone with the inmates in the storage closet.

She said that her father was a sergeant at the facility and also assigned to the kitchen. She said that, three months prior, she had been scolded by her father for being in the storage room and not propping the door open. Ever since then, she had always propped the door open with a broom or a cart.

When asked if she was ever alone with any of these inmates, she indicted that, if she would be, the hallway door to the kitchen storage was always propped open.

During the interview, the police officer asked Youngberg if she ever approached an inmate to have sex or bring items into the prison or to pass messages.

She stated that she did not.

The officer asked Youngberg how her DNA ended up on the inside of the inmate's underwear.

Youngberg responded that there was no way that her DNA could end up in the inmate's underwear. She denied having any sexual conduct with the inmate.

On June 20, 2018, the cook coordinator at the Moose Lake facility was interviewed by special investigation staff of the DOC and recalled an incident when she went to the storage room to do some laundry. She found the door held open by a cart and she saw the second inmate inside.

He asked someone in a back room for tinfoil, and Youngberg brought the tinfoil. She did not know if the victim inmate was in the back room. According to video tapes, the incident happened on June 11, 2018.

In a report dated Sept. 17, 2018, Forensic Scientist McKenzie Anderson reported the results of the DNA testing for both Youngberg and the inmate from the strip of underwear.

The DNA testing revealed that there was a share of DNA from two or more individuals. A mixture of DNA from Youngberg and from the inmate could not be excluded as a source of the DNA, however, 99.99 percent of the population could be.

Youngberg made her first appearance in court on Jan. 30, 2019.

A notice of case assignment was issued on March 18, 2019. A contested omnibus hearing was set for May 7, 2019.


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