Skip to main content

State won't appeal first ever full release from Minnesota Sex Offender Program

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The state of Minnesota has decided against appealing a ruling that will see the first ever total discharge from the controversial Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP).

Commissioner Emily Johnson Piper, through a Department of Human Services spokesperson, confirmed to BringMeTheNews she will not appeal the discharge of 26-year-old Eric Terhaar, which was upheld last month by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

The reason for this, she says, is that it could set an unwanted precedent that could undermine the future of MSOP, which she sees as "critical to public safety."

"Until now, I have actively opposed the release of this Minnesota Sex Offender Program client," she said. "I had to weigh the risk that an unsuccessful appeal may set a precedent that could undermine the commitments of other clients.

"My recent appeal in another case was denied by the court. Continuing to have a strong program is critical to public safety."

The other case she is referring to is the provisional discharge of MSOP offender Christopher Coker, with Piper's appeal failing despite what she says was "unanimous testimony from experts against his release."

Terhaar is among the 700-plus "civilly committed" people in MSOP, who are essentially locked up at one of two high-security facilities (in Moose Lake or St. Peter) for an indefinite period of time.

The future of MSOP in its current form is under question, with a federal judge demanding immediate changes to the program after ruling it "unconstitutional" for effectively keeping offenders confined after they served their prison sentence, with no prospect of ever being released.

Terhaar will become the first offender to ever be released from the program without being subjected to intrusive levels of supervision in the community, or without being first released to a halfway house, the Star Tribune notes.

He entered MSOP six years ago at the age of 19, having first entering a "secure" facility at the age of 14 after a turbulent childhood that saw him sexually abused multiple times in a juvenile facility in California. But he also reported sexually abusing some of his developmentally disabled siblings.

The Supreme Court ruling (which you can read in full here) says Terhaar isn’t a danger to the public, and doesn’t need the type of treatment or supervision the MSOP provides.

Expert testimony has noted Terhaar does not have a sexual disorder, which means the chance he re-offends is lower. He’s also gone out into the community without incident, and visits to his father’s home have been called productive.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-10-02 at 8.25.27 PM

Pilot, brother and sister killed when plane crashed into house are ID'd

The plane crashed into a house in Hermantown, Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-10-02 at 7.18.52 PM

Rolled semi, livestock on freeway interchange in Woodbury

Traffic cameras showed what appeared to be hogs on the side of the road.

Eric Reinbold

Reinbold guilty of murdering wife with 'particular cruelty'

Eric Reinbold, 46, was convicted of two counts of murder in the second degree in Pennington County Friday.

police tape

Armed assault suspect arrested after standoff in Waite Park

The standoff ended early Saturday when officer obtained a warrant for the home.

Screen Shot 2022-10-02 at 9.06.25 AM

3 dead after plane crashes into house in Hermantown

Two people in the house were uninjured.

FeDh7pUWAAg3NMd

Destructive fire at Maple Grove greenhouse and nursery

The fire burned early Sunday morning at a longtime Maple Grove greenhouse and nursery.

st. cloud state university hockey

SCSU player hospitalized after being taken off ice on stretcher

Luedtke was checked into the boards in the first period and down for a reported 10-15 minutes.

Amber alert wisconsin

Amber Alert for Kryssy King canceled, suspect still at large

Police beleived 15-year-old Kryssy King was with a 22-year-old man who remains wanted.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 10.18.12 AM

3 St. Paul fast food restaurants robbed in space of an hour

The thieves struck between 7:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 9.06.40 AM

What to do with the Kmart site? Minneapolis wants your ideas

The project will connect Nicollet Avenue south of Lake street and north of the Midtown Greenway, reestablishing a street grid.

Screen Shot 2022-10-01 at 7.53.55 AM

Crowd evacuated at end of homecoming football game in Brooklyn Park

Police blamed 'unruly teens' in the stands and some who were trying to enter the stadium.

Related

Minnesota sex-offender program releasing its first convicted pedophile

Clarence Opheim will be freed to a Minneapolis halfway-house after 19 years in the sex-offender program. The Star Tribune reports the 64-year-old is the first patient to be released since the program started in 1994. Opheim was convicted in the late 1980s of criminal sexual assault of a teenage boy. His whereabouts will still be monitored with an electronic ankle-bracelet.

House votes to add notification requirement to releases from sex offender program

The House bill would apply to Clarence Opheim, who could be released from the sex offender program as early as this weekend. Existing law has no provision for notifying neighbors of the halfway house where he'll be living.