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Minnesota Legislature

Sex offender’s discharge

Published (2/24/2012)
By Sue Hegarty
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A convicted sex offender awaits a provisional discharge from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in St. Peter; however, the move did not trigger a community notification. The apparent loophole in the law was enough to have the House declare an urgency Feb. 20, so members could pass a bill to require community notification of sex offenders released from the program.

Under current law, law enforcement is only required to provide community notification if a sex offender is released from a halfway house into a community.

The House voted 127-1 to pass HF2394*/ SF1994, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R-Lake Elmo) and Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove). The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee amended the bill on Feb. 21, and it passed the Senate 61-0 Feb. 23.

Clarence Opheim, 64, must be discharged from MSOP within 15 days of the Feb. 10 court order, according to MSOP Executive Director Dennis Benson.

He is the first person in Minnesota to receive a provisional discharge and one of

635 clients in the treatment program, which has locations in Moose Lake and St. Peter. He was civilly committed to the program after serving his prison term for sexually abusing multiple children.

“As such, Mr. Opheim’s release, and the lack of public notification, creates a potentially dangerous situation for the public and children who will be unaware of his presence,” House Speaker Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) and Majority Leader Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) wrote in a Feb. 17 letter to Gov. Mark Dayton.

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