Panel denies release for sex offenderby Jon Collins, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minnesota Supreme Court Judicial Appeal panel decided Friday to deny a civilly committed sex offender's petition for release from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.
John Rydberg, 70, will continue to be detained indefinitely by the state.
Rydberg committed sexual assaults in Minnesota and Wisconsin more than three decades ago. He was committed in Minnesota in 1993.
The court panel found that Rydberg is still in need of treatment, according to a decision released Friday. The panelists were convinced that the conditions of Rydberg's provisional discharge plan did not "provide a reasonable degree of protection to the public" or "allow him to successfully adjust to open society."
Last year, the Special Review Board of the Minnesota Department of Human Services recommended that Rydberg be granted a provisional discharge, which at the time would have been the only release from the state's sex offender civil commitment program.
Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson disagreed with the board's initial decision to grant provisional release.
"I am pleased that the Minnesota Judicial Appeal Panel agreed with my assessment that this client is not ready for placement in the community," Jesson said in a statement Friday. "Treatment can work, but we must be careful to ensure the public is not put at unnecessary risk as patients are granted more freedom."
Rydberg's attorney, Brian Southwell, said he will persist in efforts to get Rydberg a provisional discharge from the program.
"We will either appeal it, or we will wait six months and re-petition the Special Review Board for a provisional discharge again," Southwell said.
Southwell said his appeals will focus on the medical professionals who worked with Rydberg who think he's ready to move on.
Minnesota's sex offender treatment program holds more than 600 people. Another civilly committed sex offender, Clarence Opheim, was provisionally discharged earlier this year.