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Hargreaves returns to prison pending civil commitment hearing

WILLMAR — A Level 3 sex offender who was scheduled to be released from prison Tuesday and had plans to move to a house in rural New London and begin a new job will instead be going back to the state penitentiary in Stillwater.

Craig Allan Hargreaves, 49, will remain in prison until a civil commitment hearing is held to determine if he is a sexually dangerous person and should be committed to the state's sex offender program at Moose Lake.

Wearing orange prison garb and giving a quick glance to the half-dozen family members and friends in the courtroom, Hargreaves appeared Monday afternoon for a brief preliminary probable cause hearing in Kandiyohi County District Court in Willmar.

Through his attorney, Thomas Kramer of Granite Falls, Hargreaves declined to provide testimony at this time.

Kramer said that does not mean Hargreaves admits to all the facts presented in a 46-page petition, which was filed last week by the Kandiyohi County Attorney's office and the state Attorney General's office, but that he acknowledges that there was compelling information for a hold order.

The petition includes detailed, graphic information about multiple incidents allegedly involving Hargreaves providing alcohol and drugs to minors and engaging in sexual activity with them. It also says Hargreaves is a "sexual psychopathic personality and a sexually dangerous person and is in need of hospitalization."

Registered sex offenders are assigned a level by the state Department of Corrections when they leave prison. Level 3 is considered the highest risk to reoffend. During comments in the courtroom, Hargreaves said he objected to the Level 3 classification, and he has a different attorney working on that.

Judge Donald Spilseth approved the hold order, which gives Hargreaves a choice of facilities where he stays during the civil commitment process.

Given the options of being held in the Kandiyohi County Jail, the Moose Lake facility or returning to the Stillwater prison — where he has been since being sentenced in 2010 for molesting a 12-year-old boy during the summer of 2007 — Hargreaves chose to return to Stillwater.

At one point, however, Hargreaves seemed to question why he had to continue to be confined and talked about the "stable home" and job he would be returning to when released from prison and that he would be wearing a GPS tracking system.

Hargreaves said he wouldn't be "living under a bridge."

Noah Cashman, from the Minnesota Attorney General's office, said wearing a monitoring device would have been part of the supervised release plan if Hargreaves was released from prison. Cashman said the county and state believe Hargreaves would cause physical harm to others if he was not confined during the civil commitment process.

Hargreaves told Judge Spilseth it appeared the court will have him civilly committed "no matter what."

Spilseth told Hargreaves he would have opportunities to defend himself during the hearing.

Hargreaves eventually chose to return to Stillwater, but he can change his mind at any time and be transferred to the county jail or Moose Lake while waiting for the civil commitment process to take place.

The hearing is expected to be held in the next three months, but an extension of 120 days could be sought.

Prior to the actual civil commitment hearing, Hargreaves will undergo several psychological tests by different examiners, including one appointed by the court and one of Hargreaves' choice. The county could also request a separate examination.

After the court session ended and Hargreaves and his attorney were talking in the courtroom, Kramer said he would be with Hargreaves during the examinations. He told Hargreaves he has the option to request an additional exam.

Kramer assured Hargreaves that the process was just starting. "This is not the commitment," Kramer said of the Monday court appearance. "This is the front end."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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