Sex offender therapist charged with assaulting 10-year-old girl


A clinical therapist at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter, Minn., is accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl and threatening to kill her if she told anyone about it.

According to the Mankato Free Press, Wanda Lou Elizabeth Viento, 57, was charged Friday in Blue Earth County Court with several felony counts of sexual assault and making threats against the child.

Viento has been a therapist at the St. Peter sex offender program since August. She also served as director of the Women's Center at Minnesota State University Mankato from 2009-2011, the Free Press reports.

According to the criminal complaint, the girl told police last week that Viento and another woman molested her on several occasions. She said the last instance of abuse occurred in the fall, the St. Peter Herald reports.

The girl also said that Viento and the other woman sometimes recorded the abuse on their cellphones, the criminal complaint said.

Viento told police she babysat for the girl while she lived in Mankato, but denies that she assaulted her, according to the complaint.

The incident is not related to Viento's position at the sex offender treatment program, the Department of Human Services said in a statement. But Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry said the agency is "very concerned" about the charges.

At her initial court appearance Friday, Viento's attorney told the court she was "absolutely stunned" by the charges, the Free Press reports.

Judge Greg Anderson set bail at $200,000 with no conditions or $20,000 with several conditions, including that Viento wear a GPS monitoring device and have no contact with the victim or her family.

According to the MSU Women's Center website, Viento also worked at Boise State University, Kalamazoo (Michigan) College, and Western Michigan University.

Viento's background is as a social worker. She has worked with sexual trauma survivors and on LGBT and other social justice issues.

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