Minnesota Supreme Court upholds decision to release violent sex offender

A Minnesota man who spent decades behind bars for brutally raping teenage girls in the 1970s and 1980s is about to be released from a sex offender program.

The fight to keep Thomas Duvall in custody went all the way to the State Supreme Court, which upheld the decision he should be freed.

Last spring, Duvall, now 63, testified to a three-judge panel that he had earned his right to be provisionally discharged and learned how to control violent sexual fantasies.

He has been civilly committed since 2001 after his release from prison for a series of violent rapes. He has admitted to at least 60 victims.

A family member of one victim told Fox 9, "I am honestly so devastated, I have no words at this moment. We are terrified. The public needs to know how dangerous Duvall is."

Duvall's case set off a political firestorm at the Capitol four years ago when he was first set to be released. Governor Mark Dayton initially supported the move, but then halted it. The state has continued to fight Duvall's release ever since.

At Duvall's hearing last year, state-hired psychiatrists testified he has a high risk to reoffend, demonstrating he continued to have deviant thoughts. Members of his treatment team, however, all supported him.

In January, the panel ruled in his favor, so the state took it to the Minnesota Supreme Court who decided to let the ruling stand.

"Now that all appeals have been exhausted, we will carefully supervise and monitor Mr. Duvall,” said Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper in a statement. “We will strictly hold him to the conditions of his provisional discharge, including GPS monitoring, drug and alcohol testing, random searches and required polygraphs."

Duvall's exact release date is not known yet. He will live in a group home in the Twin Cities.

According to the Department of Human Services, there are 739 people civilly committed to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program in Moose Lake and St. Peter. Seventeen people have been provisionally discharged and are living in communities under close supervision. Another nine people have been granted provisional discharge and are awaiting placement. Three people have been fully discharged.