HASTINGS, Minn. (KMSP) - A convicted sex offender, who has fought for his release for three years, took the stand on Thursday. Thomas Duvall, 61, argues he has been a model citizen and should be released from the state's sex offender program.
Duvall, right off the bat, told the appeals panel "I do believe that I've worked and earned to be provisionally discharged."
Since 2001, Duvall has been civilly committed in the state sex offender program - first at Moose Lake, then at St. Peter for a series of violent rapes.
He said he's learned how he lacked any empathy and learned how to connect with people in healthy ways.
In recent years, in an effort to overhaul a program criticized as a life sentence, seven sex offenders have been provisionally released and seven more approved for provisional release pending supervised housing.
Duvall's case is seen as a test of just how willing these judicial panels are in giving offenders more freedom, since his release is strongly opposed by the state.
Duvall has been accepted by a group home in south Minneapolis.
Acknowledging his sexual deviancy diagnosis, he said, "I know I need help. I know I need that structure a house can provide."
And says he's learned not to blame others, but rely on them.
"I have no more excuses in life,” he said. “There's nothing that can come at that I can't turn to somebody for help."
Testimony continues on Friday with the state’s psychiatrist who has written a report, strongly recommending that Duvall stays in the program.