Shawn Sullivan won't be extradited to MN; U.K. judges rule sex offender program violates rights

Sullivan is accused of sexually assaulting three girls and has been convicted of assaulting two others, yet remains free.
Sullivan is accused of sexually assaulting three girls and has been convicted of assaulting two others, yet remains free.

In 1994, Eagan police questioned Shawn Sullivan, then 24 years old, about allegations that he had exposed himself in front of and groped two 11-year-old girls. But before prosecutors could file charges, Sullivan fled to Europe, never to return.

Sullivan, who also allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl in Bloomington in the backseat of a Ford Bronco after feeding her vodka and peach schnapps, was finally arrested by British authorities in 2010. The U.S. government tried to get Sullivan extradited back to Minnesota to face charges, but Britain's High Court denied the extradition request, ruling on June 20 that Minnesota's sex offender treatment program could result in Sullivan's human rights being violated.

High Court judges ruled that if extradited, there was a real risk that Sullivan would be subjected to an order of civil commitment to the treatment program, which they characterized as among the toughest in the US. According to an AP report, the justices outlined a litany of concerns, noting that offenders don't have to be mentally ill to be committed; their offenses don't have to be recent, and in some cases, those placed in the program don't even have to have been convicted of any crime.

Judges added that they'd seen no evidence that anyone had ever been released from Minnesota's program since it began in its current form in 1988. The program allows for the indefinite detention of people found to be "sexually dangerous."

In their decision, the judges wrote that "there is a real risk that if returned, Mr. Sullivan will be the subject of an order of civil commitment," adding that placing him in the program would amount to a flagrant denial of his human rights.

In their June 20 ruling, High Court judges gave U.S. officials a week to guarantee that Sullivan wouldn't be enrolled in the program. When a week came and went without officials giving that guarantee, the court ruled today to stop extradition proceedings.

According to the BBC, Sullivan, who is married to a British Ministry of Justice employee, has a previous conviction for sexually assaulting two 12-year-old girls in Ireland, for which he was given a suspended sentence. So despite being convicted of sexually assaulting two girls, allegedly assaulting two others, and allegedly raping another, Sullivan is free.

One of Sullivan's alleged Eagan victims, Jessica Schaefer, told the Star Tribune in December that the past 18 years have brought a stream of nightmares and therapy. She said she remains distrustful of others to this day. Sullivan's other alleged Eagan victim, Schaefer's cousin, didn't provide her name but told the Strib that while she didn't talk about the incident for years, she still tenses up when she sees a White Bronco like the one Sullivan used to drive.

Sullivan's alleged rape victim, Hannah Treziok, said she has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I feel like my justice escaped with him," Treziok said.

See also:
-- FEATURE: Civil commitment leaves Hennepin County offenders languishing

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