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St. Paul residents meet with officials over rare release of convicted sex offender

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Dozens of St. Paul residents funneled into a church Wednesday evening to get assurances from authorities that a convicted sex offender moving into the city will be properly watched, the Pioneer Press reports.

The meeting, held at Lutheran Church-The Redeemer, was to discuss the release of Oliver Lenell Dority from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

Dority, 50, is set to leave the embattled (and unconstitutional) program and move into a halfway house on the 500 block of Ashland Avenue in St. Paul.

He was convicted of first- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1995, according to online court records, charges he pleaded guilty to. KSTP says in one instance, he hid in the back of the victim's car then sexually assaulted her. Another victim he met at a bar.

Dority's public Level III predatory offender profile says he "used force to gain compliance," and did not know the women.

His provisional release from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (a rare occurrence), and integration into the neighborhood, had residents at the meeting concerned. Officials however said Dority would be electronically monitored around the clock, and the building staffed 24 hours a day, the Pioneer Press reports.

Dority was granted provisional release from the program after showing progress in his treatment, KARE 11 reports.

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program

Dority was committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in 2009, after serving his prison sentence – a common occurrence.

The program was ruled unconstitutional last year, with the judge saying offenders who served their time were then committed to the security centers in St. Peter and Moose Lake with little hope of ever being released.

Nobody has ever been fully discharged from the program in its 20-year history, and through last summer only three clients had even been provisionally released.

That's shifted recently however.

The Star Tribune goes into the historical significance of Dority's case, noting that in the past year, six more offenders (including Dority) have been been discharged with provisions.

Last month, a judge upheld a ruling that Christopher R. Coker – who was convicted of raping three girls in the early 1990s – had made "great progress" and should be released to a halfway house under heavy surveillance. In the fall, 68-year-old Benjamin Gissendanner was slated to move into Rock Dell Township.

Changes likely coming – at some point

The state was also ordered to make a series of changes to the program, including ordering case reviews of the 700-plus patients currently committed. Minnesota is appealing the decision, and an appeals court put those changes on hold.

Gov. Mark Dayton, in his $1.4 billion jobs bill, proposed spending $12.4 million to build two new, lower-security facilities for those who had made progress in their rehabilitation.

As of Dec. 31, 2015, there were 726 clients in the sex offender program, the state's Department of Human Services website shows. About two-thirds of them are at Moose Lake, while the rest are in St. Peter. The age of the clients ranges from 21 to 93.

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