A 21-year-old male caregiver has been charged with sexually assaulting two adults with intellectual disabilities at group homes in southwest Minnesota. Samuel Lee Sandbo of Windom said he was “having anxiety and guilt regarding some acts he committed” and told local police that he raped two vulnerable adults. Both victims have significant intellectual and mental disabilities, according to a criminal complaint filed in Cottonwood County District Court.
Sandbo has been charged with two felony counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct that together carry a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison and up to $60,000, or both.
“It is disturbing that somebody who is in a position of authority over extremely mentally impaired individuals would take advantage of them,” said Nicholas Anderson, the Cottonwood County attorney.
Sandbo worked for Habilitative Services Inc. (HSI), which provides residential and in-home support services for people with disabilities in 14 counties, primarily in southwest Minnesota. Sandbo is no longer employed by HSI, and the organization is cooperating with law enforcement.
“As an organization of caring professionals dedicated to supporting the individuals we are privileged to serve, we are devastated that anyone could intentionally cause harm to a person with disabilities,” Devin Nelson, agency director, said in a statement.
According to the criminal complaint, Sandbo said he became physically abusive toward clients “within six months” after he began working for HSI in January 2017. He raped two vulnerable adults. Both rapes occurred at group homes in Windom. The criminal complaint does not identify the exact locations of the alleged assaults or name the victims.
Sandbo has been released on $75,000 bond.
Nationally, the rate of serious violent crime, including rape or sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault, of people with disabilities is more than three times the rate of assaults on people without disabilities, according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2018, regulators in Minnesota received 2,403 allegations of sexual abuse involving vulnerable adults, and 9,058 allegations of physical abuse, according to state data.
(Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune)