Personal attendant accused of molesting boy in his care
A man hired by an Apple Valley couple to serve as personal care attendant for their son is accused of sexually abusing the boy during “fake wrestling” sessions.
Neil W. Solberg, 81, a former Eagan resident now living in Florida, was charged with a felony in district court this month following an Apple Valley police investigation.
The criminal complaint gives the following account:
The parents of the boy hired Solberg as a caregiver for their elementary school-age son in August 2005, but stopped employing him in August 2007 when the boy told his mother he felt uncomfortable around Solberg.
The boy, now in his mid-teens, reported during an interview last November with an Apple Valley police detective and a Dakota County social worker that he had been sexually abused by his caregiver. He stated Solberg “always wanted to go up to (the boy’s) bedroom and ‘fake wrestle.’ ”
The boy told police that Solberg touched him inappropriately during the bedroom wrestling sessions, placing his hands beneath the boy’s underwear.
Solberg allegedly would justify the touching by telling the boy, “That is what you do during wrestling.”
The boy reported he was touched inappropriately more than five times, but was not sure of the exact number, the complaint said.
The boy’s mother told police that Solberg was referred to the family as a personal care attendant by their church’s pastor. She recalled Solberg and her son wrestling in the boy’s bedroom, and confirmed that at some point her son told her he didn’t like Solberg anymore so she stopped employing him.
In December, Apple Valley police contacted police in Florida to assist in the investigation, as Solberg now lives in Fort Myers, Fla.
When a detective with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office interviewed Solberg at his home Dec. 28, Solberg initially denied knowing the boy or his family, or having ever worked a personal care attendant.
Later on in the interview, though, he recalled having been a member of his church’s “Befriender Program” and had taken care of two boys through the program. Solberg then showed police a book full of photos of children, including a picture of the Apple Valley boy with his name written below it. He told the detective, “I keep them all in here.”
At that point in the interview, Solberg recalled having worked with the Apple Valley boy for about two years and that the boy “liked to wrestle,” but stated there was never anything sexual during their wrestling sessions. He denied ever touching the boy underneath his clothing.
Solberg was charged May 10 with second-degree criminal sexual conduct. If convicted of the one felony count, he faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and a $35,000 fine.