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Chippewa County sex predator committed to offender program

MONTEVIDEO -- A convicted sex offender who had been just a few hours from being released from prison to the streets of his hometown is now indefinitely committed to the Minnesota sex offender program in St. Peter and Moose Lake.

Steven Allan Housman, 55, formerly of Montevideo, was committed to the sex offender program after an Oct. 14 district court ruling that he has a sexually dangerous and psychopathic personality.

Housman had been classified by the Minnesota Department of Corrections as a Level III sex offender -- meaning he had a high likelihood of reoffending.

He was to be released from the Chippewa County Jail on Jan. 6, 2009, when the Chippewa County Sheriff's Office received an order to transfer him to the Minnesota sexual offender program at St. Peter.

The order was the start of civil proceedings seeking to commit him, and Housman has been in the offender program since then.

Housman had served a 58-month prison sentence for a second-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction for offenses against a 7-year-old female. Authorities in Chippewa County believed that if Housman were not committed, he would return to a rural Montevideo residence he formerly occupied. His alleged victims remain in the area.

Chippewa County Attorney Dwayne Knutsen said that the order for civil commitment could still be appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. He said appeals are often filed following commitments to the program.

State law allows for a civil commitment if an individual is determined to have a sexual psychopathic personality, or is a sexually dangerous person likely to engage in harmful behaviors against others. It requires the state to show evidence of habitual sexual misconduct, an utter lack of ability to control sexual impulses, and the likelihood of continuing to inflict harm on others.

The commitment is for an indefinite period of time. As of yet, no one committed to the state's criminal sexual offender program has been released.

Chippewa County is responsible for 10 percent of the treatment costs on an ongoing basis, according to the county attorney.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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