ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The three-judge panel decided on Friday to hold a special hearing in February to determine whether 58-year-old convicted rapist Thomas Duvall should be released from sex offender treatment.
Minnesota spends $73 million a year locking up violent sex offenders for treatment and in 20 years, only one has been released.
Thomas Duvall could be the second, and he’s been convicted of sexually assaulting three teenage girls, with a history of brutal, sadistic sex crimes.
He has been in sex offender treatment since 2001 and could be released soon.
But top public officials say he should never get out.
“My job as a dad and as a public servant is to protect my kids, to protect your children, your spouses,” Rep. Kurt Zellers said. “And letting Mr. Duvall out of prison would be absolutely failing in that duty.”
Duvall is one of Minnesota’s 698 violent sex offenders who aren’t in jail. They’re locked up in sex offender treatment centers at Moose Lake and St. Peter.
But federal courts said if it’s a treatment program, sex offenders will need to be released someday.
Assistant Hennepin County Attorney George Widseth has committed many of Minnesota’s most dangerous sex offenders.
He’s supporting Duvall’s conditional release, after Duvall completed his treatment program.
“Yea he’s got a terrible history,” Widseth said. “They all do. They all have long horrendous histories. They’ve all got victims. They’ve all done damage to people. But the question is, ‘What are they like today?”
But lawyers for Attorney General Lori Swanson said Duvall may have committed up to 200 violent assaults, and said he represents a threat to public safety.
Zellers, who’s a Republican candidate for governor, said Gov. Mark Dayton should step in.
“One of the hockey moms said in practice to me on Sunday, ‘Why the hell would the governor let this guy out?'” Zellers said.
To be clear, the governor has no power to hold a sex offender for life.
Dayton supports Duvall’s conditional release. But in a statement today, Dayton said he also supports the new hearing into whether Duvall should be released or not.
“Governor Dayton and his administration are responsible for carrying out the laws established by the Minnesota legislature regarding the treatment of convicted sexual offenders. Former Speaker Zellers is wrong in implying that the Governor or other administration officials have the authority to incarcerate such offenders for life. The length of a criminal sentence is recommended by the prosecuting County Attorney and decided by the presiding Judge, after review of applicable statutes and the facts of that case. Rep. Zellers could have proposed changing those statutes, while he was Speaker of the House in 2011 and 2012, if he thought they were inadequate; however, he did not do so.”