Judge commits Level 2 Sex Offender until April trial

NEW ULM – A 57-year-old male, Level 2 Sex Offender who has been in state correctional facilities for the past decade for a two-count conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, was civilly committed Monday in Brown County District Court.

Judge Robert Docherty ruled that John H. Thuringer – who was to be placed on 13 years of Intensive Supervised Release on Monday, Feb. 4, – will spend the next two months at the Moose Lake Correctional Facility.

Whether Thuringer’s civil commitment becomes final will be determined by a judge at a three-day trial on Tuesday, April 2, in Brown County District Court.

If the commitment decision becomes final in court, Thuringer would be committed to the Commissioner of Human Services’ custody until or unless he can demonstrate he is no longer dangerous or in need of treatment.

Any decision to transfer him to a more or less secure treatment facility or discharge him at a later date would be made by a Review Board Panel appointed by the Commissioner of Human Services, according to state law.

According to a Civil Commitment Petition to apprehend and hold Thuringer filed in court last month, “it is likely (he) will cause serious physical harm to others. … he is a sexually dangerous person and no suitable alternative to involuntary hospitalization exists.”

Thuringer’s conviction was based on criminal sexual conduct with a seven- or eight-year-old female victim reported to Brown County Social Services in October 2002; and criminal sexual conduct with a seven-year-old girl, reported to a school counselor in March 2002, according to court documents.

Last year, the Brown County Attorney’s Office retained Minneapolis clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Peter Marston, to assess Thuringer.

In Marston’s opinion Thuringer’s documented offenses strongly suggest he could be diagnosed with pedophilia, based on the age of three victims, according to court documents.

Because Thuringer has been diagnosed with alcohol dependency, a personality disorder and anti-social behavior, coupled with treatment refusal and denial of committing sexual offenses, Marston opined that Thuringer is “entrenched in his refusal to address his sexual disorder that is probably a lifelong disorder,” according to court documents.

Monday in court, Assistant Attorney General Angela H. Kiese, said the State of Minnesota holds there is probable cause and that Thuringer denied inappropriate sexual contact with his victims in the mid-1990s in Nicollet and Blue Earth counties.

Kiese cited a victim impact statement in which the victim stated that she suffered substantial emotional harm including suicidal thoughts and fear of men after the sexual abuse.

“He threatened to hurt her if she told anyone about it … and denied some charges. Another victim complained of extreme emotional harm. … Thuringer made the Alfred Plea several times,” Kiese said. “Thuringer has a long history of chemical abuse. He got a 30-day prison extension of his last prison stay for refusing chemical treatment.”

Defense attorney Ryan B. Magnus of Mankato said Thuringer was found guilty by jury of things he said he didn’t do, “but that’s a battle for another day.”

Magnus said Thuringer’s Intensive Supervised Release conditions included GPS monitoring, house arrest and no contact with victims.

“He spent the last 10 years in the Department of Corrections,” Magnus said. “The real question is will he re-offend again? It’s not likely he’ll re-offend. The public is not at risk,” he concluded.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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