Dennis Linehan calls himself the “poster child” for civil commitment, which occurred in connection with the kidnapping, attempted rape and murder of 14-year-old Barbara Iversen in 1965. Hear Linehan discuss his actions, and the late Joan Riley discuss the loss of her daughter Barbara at startribune.com/slideshows.
Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune
Two gained freedom, but no success stories
- Article by: LARRY OAKES
- Star Tribune
- March 23, 2011 - 4:36 PM
Though the Minnesota Sex Offender Program has yet to discharge a single offender, two men did regain their freedom, each by different means and with a different result. Here's what happened:
According to court records, Rickmyer has a history of spanking children for sexual gratification. In 1991, Ramsey County had Rickmyer, then 34, committed as a psychopathic personality.
But the Minnesota Supreme Court ordered his release in 1994, ruling that his conduct, "while repellent, [does] not constitute the kind of injury, pain, 'or other evil' '' envisioned by the law.
That ruling came on the same day as the one that invalidated the commitment of killer-rapist Dennis Linehan. To keep Linehan confined, lawmakers passed a new commitment law, lowering the legal bar for commitments.
While authorities recommitted Linehan under the new law amid heavy publicity, Rickmyer re-entered society with little notice.
In 2004, he was living in Minneapolis when a jury convicted him of criminal sexual conduct for spanking two teenage girls who worked in the restaurant he managed. He was sentenced to three years in prison and 10 years on probation.
Rickmyer, also known as Peter Stephenson and now free on probation, did not respond to requests for comment.
Committed as a psychopathic personality in 1991, Hubbard, then 28, had rape convictions going back to 1977. In the MSOP, he embraced treatment and religion, according to his attorney, Richard Cohen.
By 1996, Hubbard became the first resident to complete treatment, so impressing treatment providers and a three-judge panel that they allowed him brief, unsupervised passes outside. Gradually they allowed him supervised visits to see his wife and two children in a Twin Cities suburb.
Finally, in 2000, the Minnesota Department of Human Services provisionally discharged Hubbard, making him the first civilly committed sex offender in Minnesota to earn his release in at least a decade. End of treatment discharges are so rare that Human Service officials say they don't know when the last was, before Hubbard's.
Hubbard's provisional discharge had many conditions, including reporting his progress regularly to the MSOP. For more than three years he lived outside its facilities.
But in April 2003, Dr. Anita Schlank, then the MSOP's clinical director, revoked his discharge. According to records, she'd learned that he'd traveled out of state without permission and had moved without notifying the program.
Then administrators learned that Hubbard had drunk alcohol in bars, had affairs and lied to treatment providers. "He was having trouble in his marriage," Cohen said. "But there was no reoffending of any sort."
In court, Assistant Attorney General Noah Cashman disclosed: "Anita Schlank's concern [was] that he was getting back into his reoffense cycle."
That summer, MSOP administrators attempted to get Hubbard back on a "pass plan," to restart his transition to freedom. But Gov. Tim Pawlenty, facing criticism over alleged discussions about eventually moving some MSOP residents to less-secure facilities, ordered all non-court-ordered passes canceled. Months later, Dru Sjodin was abducted, raped and killed by a recently released sex offender.
Since the MSOP revoked Hubbard's provisional discharge, no resident has been let outside the secure campuses unsupervised. "Judges are pretty fearful, and everybody's pretty politically apprehensive," Cohen said.
Last year Hubbard and his wife divorced. In February, he died in an MSOP shower room in St. Peter, from what fellow residents say was a heart attack. He was 45.
MSOP officials refused to provide the official cause of death, citing privacy laws.
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