Judge refuses to throw out MN sex offender lawsuit

By KBJR News 1

February 21, 2014 Updated Feb 21, 2014 at 9:23 PM CDT

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A federal judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of Minnesota's Civil Commitment program for sex offenders.

US District Judge Donovan Frank wrote in a ruling that the lawsuit "easily survives dismissal."

The class-action lawsuit claims the program holds patients indefinitely in prison-like settings, which, they say is unconstitutional.

They say they're being locked up for crimes they might commit in the future.

Arthur Senty-Haugen, a member of the class action lawsuit, who is incarcerated in the Moose Lake sex offender center, says he believes the department of human services focuses more on punishment than on trying to make the sex offenders safer for society.

"I'm a class member of the class suit. There's 14 plaintiffs who filed the suit. The conditions of the confinement are unconstitutional," said Senty-Haugen.

To date 700 sex offenders have been sent to the program and in the program's history only one man has been successfully discharged.

Judge Frank urges the Minnesota Legislature to come up with a compromise so that the lawsuit doesn't result in turning all the program's sex offenders free at the same time.

Elsa Robins