Former U.S. probation officer at center of sex abuse allegations indicted for lying to FBI
A former longtime federal probation officer previously accused of making repeated unwanted sexual advances by multiple women he supervised has now been charged in a criminal indictment unsealed Friday.
Dennis Edward Bresnahan, 55, of Forest Lake, made a brief first appearance in St. Paul on charges related to allegedly lying to the FBI about his interactions with one of the women and deleting evidence of nude images he solicited from two women while he was their probation officer.
The Star Tribune reported last year that a federal grand jury was investigating the women’s allegations against Bresnahan, who is also at the center of a federal lawsuit filed by the women against the government last year.
In the lawsuit and through interviews, Tammy Bloomer, Ayesha McKinney and Tracina Ross each alleged a pattern of abuse that included demands from Bresnahan for nude photos, suggestions that they participate in sex acts with him and, in one case, coerced oral sex during a routine probation home visit.
A message was left seeking comment from a federal defender listed as representing Bresnahan and for a home phone number listed for Bresnahan, who was released from custody after his initial appearance on Friday.
The charges meanwhile came as a significant relief to the women, their attorney, Kenneth Udoibok, said Friday.
“For me, I am pleased that someone like Dennis Bresnahan, who for years has abused the authority given to him by the federal government, will now see the impact of his abuse,” Udoibok said. “Because now the government hopefully will exact punishment from him.”
Court papers reveal that the FBI began investigating Bresnahan on the request of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Aug. 2016 while Bresnahan still worked for U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services. While under suspension, Bresnahan resigned in late 2016 after 25 years at the office.
During an interview with agents, Bresnahan allegedly lied about receiving photographs of a sexual nature from one of the women, telling the investigators that aside from one image, he did not request or obtain additional photographs from the woman. Bresnahan also allegedly deleted photographs of the woman and a second probationer in order to “impede, obstruct, and influence” the investigation, according to charges.
But McKinney said that Bresnahan tried to solicit sex from her while supervising her between 2014 and 2015, and falsified a drug test that sent her to jail when she refused to comply. The advances continued after McKinney’s release from supervision, according to court records and interviews, and he asked her to send him pictures that included her breastfeeding her child.
Investigators dug through records of Bresnahan’s supervisees from his 25-year career in search of additional crimes. However, prosecutors could not rely on a federal statute criminalizing a sexual relationship between an officer and supervisee — unlike under Minnesota law or in cases involving federal prison inmates.
In the interview with the FBI in Aug. 2016, Bresnahan told agents that “there were boundary issues and inappropriate conversations” with McKinney and said she sent a nude photo to his work email account that he said he “immediately deleted.”
But by then McKinney had also recorded phone calls with Bresnahan during which he asked for more photos. And, according to a search warrant application, federal probation staff found “inappropriate nude images and videos of Bresnahan exposing himself” on his official work email account.
Stephen Montemayor • 612-673-1755