Mark Dayton, Lori Swanson disagree about whether serial rapist should be released

Swanson (left) thinks Dayton and other state officials are moving too hastily toward releasing a serial offender.
Swanson (left) thinks Dayton and other state officials are moving too hastily toward releasing a serial offender.

A few months back, a Department of Human Services board recommended that serial rapist Thomas Duvall be released from the state's sex offender facility in Moose Lake.

THE BACKSTORY: State may release man convicted of knife-point rape and another who molested 30 children

Governor Mark Dayton supports the board's recommendation. But Attorney General Lori Swanson doesn't think Duvall should be set free without additional scrutiny and will seek to block his release during a hearing on Friday, the Star Tribune reports.

State officials have taken heat from all over the world for Minnesota's 19-year-old sex offender treatment program, which currently houses nearly 700 inmates in the Moose Lake facility but has only released two offenders ever. Those criticisms only increased after 45-year-old Ray Messer became the first inmate to commit suicide at the facility in August.

Duvall could soon become the third offender to be released. After the DHS made its recommendation to release him, the last hurdle standing between Duvall and freedom is approval from a state Supreme Court Appeal Panel.

But Swanson is concerned Duvall will reoffend and wants the appeal panel to reconsider the DHS recommendation.

The Star Tribune details some of the reasons Swanson is worried:

Separate records obtained by the Star Tribune from sources show that Duvall's sexual "fantasy logs" -- used as a therapy tool -- contain "sexual thoughts and fantasies related to juveniles and sexual violence." Duvall's writings show that he objectifies women as "sexual body parts," mixing fantasies with memories of his past rapes, the documents reveal.

As recently as 2012, Duvall was considered "a high-risk" to sexually offend again, according to assessment records reviewed by the Star Tribune. In seeking to block Duvall's release, Swanson questions how an offender who was deemed unfit for discharge just a year ago could now be considered rehabilitated.

After Swanson first raised her concerns about Duvall's "fantasy logs" to Dayton, the governor wrote an email to DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson sharing Swanson's concerns.

"The sexual histories of almost all the sex offender clients DHS treats are horrendous," Jesson wrote, implying she still supports Duvall's release. "Sadly, the number of victims of Mr. Duvall is not atypical."

In an interview with the Strib conducted last Friday, Dayton said he's still inclined to go along with the DHS recommendation.

"Look, I share the same feeling as the public -- lock 'em up the rest of their lives, why should we take a chance?'' Dayton said. "But the real question is are we ever going to take responsibility for this backdoor, indiscriminate way of leaving these people warehoused forever?"

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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