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Predator returns to Alexandria

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A level three predatory offender has returned to Alexandria after serving his sentence for crimes committed in the area. More than a dozen concerned citizens attended a community notification meeting Tuesday at Alexandria City Hall.

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Michele Murphy, community education and notification coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), led the session with assistance from Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels.

Timothy Knut Severud, 47, will reside at the 500 block of 3rd Avenue in Alexandria; he was released on July 25. Severud was convicted in 2007 of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and has been discharged from prison for offenses involving sexual contact with female children. He was originally sentenced to 90 months imprisonment; two-thirds of the sentence was served incarcerated in a DOC institution, one-third will be served on parole.

Murphy said Severud has a history of engaging in sexual contact with numerous female victims between the ages of five and 12-years-old. The contact in most cases included fondling and he was known to his victims through his work.

"He was not charged or convicted for most of these offenses," Murphy said. "Most sexually abused children are abused by someone not on the sex offender registry."

According to the Minnesota DOC, Severud gained access to the victims while working as a traveling minister who sometimes stayed at the victims' family home. Severud's offenses involved fondling and simulated sexual acts with a 10-year-old girl.

Severud was a member of a religious sect referred to as the "church with no name" in which two members, called "two-by-twos" would travel to a community to spread a religious message. Severud was believed to be a minister for the church.

Severud will be under intensive supervised release (ISR). He will be monitored with a global positioning system (GPS) and observed by four agents who will make unannounced random visits to his residence at least four times a week.

Severud must complete sex offender treatment and is not allowed access to the Internet or social networking sites.

Presently, a class-action lawsuit is challenging the legality of the state's sex offender treatment program, stating that it is unconstitutional to commit a person for medical treatment and "close the door forever," according to a report in the Star Tribune.

The same article said that Governor Mark Dayton's administration supports the state providing better therapeutic treatment for more serious offenders and pursuing less expensive and more flexible options for those offenders deemed less of a risk to the public.

The extra observation that accompanies ISR offenders comes with an additional cost to the community. ISR costs about $18 per day, per offender and an additional $13 to $19 per day, per offender, for GPS monitoring. Traditional supervised release costs about $4 per day. There are approximately 1,200 offenders served quarterly on ISR throughout Minnesota.

All level three sex offenders are placed on GPS monitoring, also known as house arrest, for a minimum of 60 days during the first phase of their re-entry to the public. ISR includes four phases, which all include unpredicted visits from agents and drug and alcohol testing.

Severud will be on ISR until 2025. After that time, he will still be required to register any changes in his appearance or lifestyle with local law enforcement.

Registration differs from supervision in that data gathered serves as a tool for law enforcement and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to track and observe offenders whereas supervision applies stricter conditions and agents to provide a certain level of accountability.

As of January 1, 2012 approximately 7,300 of Minnesota's 17,000 registered predatory offenders have been assigned a risk level. Offenders are assigned a risk level prior to release from a correctional facility based on specific criteria, Murphy said.

An End-of-Confinement Review Committee determines the risk level of offenders 90 days before the individual's release date. Committees consist of prison wardens or facility heads, law enforcement officers, professionals trained in assessing sex offenders, caseworkers experienced in supervising sex offenders and victim services professionals.

There are three levels based on the risk to reoffend. Level one carries a lower risk to the public, level two is moderate and three is higher. Murphy said Minnesota has started using a new system in 2012 to determine risk levels.

"There is a tool that we use now called the MnSOST-3.1 that was developed and validated on Minnesota sex offenders," Murphy said.

MnSOST-3.1 is an actuarial tool that gauges criteria observed by a psychologist. The machine generates a presumptive risk level number that is evaluated by the review committee before a majority vote decides the offender's public risk.

Predatory offenders are subject to provisions of the Minnesota Community Notification Act, such as public information meetings, as long as they are required to register as offenders. Generally, the length of time an offender must register is 10 years after release or until correctional supervision ends, whichever is longer. Severud is required to register for life.

Less information is provided to the public on level one and level two predators. There are 71 registered offenders in Alexandria and a total of 86 in Douglas County. When a level two offender moves into an area, notification is given to schools, daycares and other establishments that may serve individuals that could be victimized.

Minnesota has required registration of predatory offenders since 1991. The Community Notification act became effective in 1997.

The purpose of the community meeting is to enhance public safety through knowledge of the offender's general area of residence. Use of this information to intimidate, harass or threaten the offender is considered a crime. If anyone observes any suspicious activity or has cause for concern they are directed to call the Alexandria Police Department at (320) 763-6631.

Additional information on Minnesota predatory offenders can be found at www.corr.state.mn.us. An offender locator search and video are available at http://bit.ly/Q3GWJx. Non-compliant offenders can be found at http://bit.ly/Q4ckaH.A national registry, the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, can be found at www.nsopr.gov. This site is a continued effort to create a comprehensive national database and does not yet have full cooperation from all 50 states.

REGISTERED PREDATORY OFFENDERS

71 in Alexandria

86 in Douglas County

17,000 in Minnesota

OFFENDER RISK LEVELS

Level one - 59 percent

Level two - 26 percent

Level three - 15 percent

Approximately 239 level three offenders are living in Minnesota communities.

Level three offenders are determined at highest risk to reoffend.

Information from the Minnesota DOC, based on 2012 data.

RESOURCES

Someplace Safe

1.800.974.3359

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension

Minnesota Department of Corrections

Offender Locator

United States Department of Justice National Sex Offender Registry

Jacob Wetterling Resource Center

1.800.325.HOPE

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

1.800.843.5678

Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force

651.265.3882

Stop It Now! MN

1.888.PREVENT

MDH Sexual Violence Prevention Website

Office of Justice Programs Crime Victim Services

888.622.8799

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

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Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

(320) 763-1233
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