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VOICE FROM INSIDE: Minnesota may release 'ticking time bombs'

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  • SEX OFFENDER RELEASE? Panel recommends freeing 2

    SEX OFFENDER RELEASE? Panel recommends freeing 2

    Tuesday, August 20 2013 11:15 PM EDT2013-08-21 03:15:45 GMT
    (L) Kirk Fugelseth | (R) Thomas Duvall(L) Kirk Fugelseth | (R) Thomas Duvall
    The way Minnesota treats sex offenders is at a turning point that may mark the biggest change in 20 years. A special panel is recommending the release of two civilly-committed sex offenders.
    The way Minnesota treats sex offenders is at a turning point that may mark the biggest change in 20 years. A special panel is recommending the release of two civilly-committed sex offenders.

An offender who knows many of the men who may soon be released from the state's sex offender treatment centers says some being considered are "ticking time bombs."

Thomas Evenstad knows several of the civilly-committed sex offenders that may soon be freed by the state of Minnesota or the federal court considering their case, and he candidly said they may also be the most-likely to reoffend.

"You can't change the pathology of a sex offender," he said.

According to Evenstad, those who are the most likely to be released know how to work the system. Men like John Rydberg, who has committed more than 90 sex offenses and is now 70 years old.

"John Rydberg isn't the least dangerous," Evenstad said of those being considered for release. "He's one of the most dangerous. Same with Mr. Duvall."

Thomas Duvall was convicted of raping a 17-year-old girl at knifepoint after he was released from a prison term he was serving for another rape.

Both Duvall and Rydberg are among the 700 men and one woman who are so-called "patients" in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program at the facilities in St. Peter and Moose Lake. Only one patient has ever been released, but in light of a federal lawsuit, a task force has been set up to find a way to release some of them.

"There are hundreds of low-risk sex offenders, but they're selecting the most dangerous sex offenders in the state," Evenstad insisted.

Evenstad knows them because he himself has been there. Fox 9's Tom Lyden first met him 15 years ago when he was convicted of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old girl he met on a dating chat line. Evenstad has always maintained his innocence, but he served 8 years in prison.

Days before he was set to be released, Hennepin County prosecutors filed a petition to have Evenstad civilly committed as a sexual predator. That effort failed.

"The psychologists in Minnesota are susceptible to political pressure," he said. "If you didn't commit, you were bounced off the panel."

As a voice from inside, Evenstad said he believes there are many patients who would be ideal for release, such as men who committed their crimes as juveniles or those who wouldn't be considered Level 3 offenders in the criminal system; however, he said the patients who are successful in the program are some of the most dangerous to the public.

"These people become very cunning, able to con and manipulate," Evenstad continued. "Rydberg is one of the top candidates in the program -- would graduate to murder."

The state's task force considering the issue has created a rough draft of proposals for dealing with sex offenders. It includes a sex offender court to determine which offenders should be selected for civil commitment and who should be released, a higher standard of proof for civil commitment and a panel of experts to be involved in screening.

VIEW THE DRAFT: http://www.scribd.com/doc/178855099/Sex-Offender-Task-Force-Draft

The task force's final recommendations are due in December.

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