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Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday said that Thomas Duvall, the convicted serial rapist being considered for release from the state’s sex offender program, had a right to shred the so-called fantasy logs that detailed his ongoing violent sexual fantasies.
Duvall, 58, has been recommended for provisional release from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, but that decision is being challenged by Attorney General Lori Swanson, who had wanted to review Duvall’s journals for a hearing on his case. Before that review could occur, Duvall gave the documents to an MSOP staffer, who shredded them.
In a Star Tribune story on Wednesday, Solicitor General Alan Gilbert called Duvall’s destruction of the journals “a coverup” intended to eliminate information that could have prevented his release. In his testimony before a state Supreme Court appeals panel earlier this month, Gilbert said that “Mr. Duvall went ahead and destroyed these documents and then lied about [it] … I call it a coverup.”
Dayton on Wednesday said that Duvall “has his rights as somebody who is committed civilly, not incarcerated. I have no information that there was any coverup. The fact is he destroyed records that were in his possession, that’s what’s important.”
Dayton said he was unaware of the latest development before the Star Tribune’s report and paused when asked whether he should have known about it.
“The attorney general has followed her own course in this matter,” he said. “It’s consistent with the state of not being advised of anything. I guess I’m not surprised.”
Clients in the offender program are encouraged — but not required — to keep “fantasy logs,” and program officials are not legally obligated to retain them.
On Wednesday one of Dayton’s gubernatorial rivals called on Jim Nobles, the state legislative auditor, to launch a probe into why the fantasy logs were destroyed even as officials were attempting to determine whether Duvall could be safely released from the controversial sex offender treatment program.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Kurt Zellers said “what we have seen is a series of either distortions, coverups, misinterpretations or just downright failure. Last February there was a news report that this [destruction] was some sort of act by Mr. Duvall. Now here we are a few months later, it wasn’t Mr. Duvall but someone with DHS [state Department of Human Services] destroying these documents.”
Nobles said Wednesday that he received a letter from Zellers but doesn’t intend to act.
“This issue is before a state Supreme Court appeals panel, and I think that’s where it belongs,” Nobles said. “The issue was raised by the attorney general, and I think the proper place for this issue to be addressed and resolved is the appeals panel. I don’t see a role for my office.”
The revelation is the latest twist in a dispute over the proposed release of Duvall, who has been in the sex offender program since 2001. After Duvall petitioned for release last year, Swanson sought to block it. She argued he remained a threat to the public and asked the state to produce his journals for a hearing on his case. Duvall’s attorney said his client gave the fantasy logs late last year to Minnesota Sex Offender Program staff, who shredded them.
Nobles’ office has previously audited MSOP. A 2011 report by the office showed Minnesota has four times the number of civilly committed sex offenders per capita than 19 other states with similar programs and urged the Legislature to develop a plan for alternate placement for some offenders housed at MSOP along with other reforms.
Staff writer Chris Serres contributed to this report.