A 76-year-old sex offender has been approved for release to an apartment in south Minneapolis, becoming the latest in a growing number of men winning conditional discharges from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, which faces court scrutiny for alleged civil rights violations.

Kenneth E. Macho molested at least eight girls, ages 2 to 12, starting in the 1970s, including three girls he was babysitting, court records say. A three-judge panel recently determined that Macho, who has a mild intellectual disability, has shown significant progress in treatment and no longer poses enough risk to the public to be confined at MSOP, where he has been committed for nearly 11 years.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which oversees the sex offender program, did not challenge his petition for conditional release.

State officials have resisted a set of reforms ordered by a federal judge, who found MSOP unconstitutional because it confines offenders without reasonable prospect of release. But over the past 14 months, six offenders have been provisionally discharged from the program, compared with only two in the program’s prior 20 years.

Most of the MSOP offenders released in recent months have raped or assaulted adult women. Macho’s case stands out based on the number of his victims and their young ages.

He is scheduled to move on March 2 to an 11-unit Minneapolis apartment complex in the 5700 block of Sander Drive. While the building is in a residential area in the Wenonah neighborhood, he will be required to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and have an escort when he leaves the residence.

All the doors and windows of the house are equipped with alarms, and there is 24-hour staffing.

About 30 people showed up Tuesday night for a public hearing on Macho’s release held at the nearby Crosstown Covenant Church.

The complex is owned by Zumbro House Inc. of Woodbury, which provides supportive housing for people with disabilities and behavioral problems.


Twitter: @chrisserres