Foster mother, 4 others charged in 'torture' of child on Red Lake Reservation

Five members of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians are facing charges connected to what authorities call the torture of a foster child.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says the alleged mistreatment took place between January 2021 and April 2022, with authorities accusing 49-year-old Trina Mae Johnson of directing "the torture, endangerment, neglect, and abuse of a child who was in Johnson’s legal custody through a foster care placement."

Prosecutors say the other people involved, 42-year-old Bertram Lussier, Jr. and Johnson’s three sisters, Bobbi Jo Johnson, 44, Ellie Mae Johnson, 47, and Patricia Ann Johnson, 39, aided and abetted the mistreatment.

In a news release, the U.S. Attorney's Office details the torture, writing: "The abuse included withholding food from the victim to the point of starvation, forcing the victim to stand in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time, and assaulting the victim in various ways.  As a result of Johnson’s and her accomplices’ abuse, the victim suffered serious and substantial physical, mental and emotional harm."

Johnson appeared in court last Friday on the charges.