Minnesota sex offender rights

By KBJR News 1

November 18, 2013 Updated Nov 18, 2013 at 11:49 PM CDT

Moose Lake, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Nicholas Luhmann and Thomas Bolter say they're in love and want to get married. They know they've done some terrible things in their lives but believe they've paid the price and are working on their problems with sexual deviancy.

"He doesn't reinforce or pursue that type of behavior anymore," said Luhmann.

"I no longer think by myself or about myself because that is what got me here and if I chose that route I would be violent," said Bolter.

Luhmann, who is now 30 years old, has a history of sexual offenses beginning when he was just 10 years old when he sexually abused his four year old brother.

He would go on to assault several other children and adults, even sexually assaulting another inmate while in prison.

"I think it was just a lack of people skills," Luhmann said. "Low self-esteem and trying to get needs met in the wrong way."

His 30 year old fiancé also has a long and troubling history of sexual violence.

A lot of the rapes I committed were retaliation rapes, Bolter said. "I have statutory rapes with minor females but the majority of my rapes are against men."

Both men say they're not ready to be out of lock up yet, that the public wouldn't be safe.

"For me personally I don't think I could handle it," Bolter said. "Often times when I am struggling emotionally I turn to sex for coping. Whether it is fantasizing about being violent in a rape or consensual sex."

Bolter and Luhmann say they're working hard to overcome their sexual deviancies, and feel getting married will actually move them forward in their treatment. But they feel the new policy is too restrictive including the prohibition against touch and gift-giving.

"Being able to buy something with my credit card and giving it to him," said Bolter.

Several of the men who are planning same sex marriages also feel the new policy has flaws. They say, once married they should be allowed to room together.

But Anne Barry, who is the Deputy Director of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, which oversees the state civil commitment program, feels that would be counter-productive.

"These are clients, generally in the early phases of treatment. The focus really needs to be on themselves, not on the care or treatment of someone else," said Barry.

Barry also says same-sex couples, married or not, will not be allowed to have sexual relations.

We are very clear in our position on that. Any kind of sexual contact or touch; it is very clear that there will be none. Even if clients are married. This is a treatment environment for sex offenders to maintain a therapeutic environment," said Barry.

Some of the men point to the Minnesota Patient Bill of Rights. While the Sex Offender Treatment program is a secure facility it is not a prison.

The men we talked with said since they're in treatment they should be accorded the same rights as any patient. Under that bill married patients in hospital at the same time are allowed to room together.

But Barry says the rules have to be different for clients of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program.

"There is a statute or a bill of rights in Minnesota, but there is also an exception, and the department will be seeking the exception under the statute for couples living together," Barry said.

The men we talked with say they intend to try to negotiate some changes to the new policy and say the law is on their side.

"We've contacted some lawyers around the situation," Bolter said.

The marriage policy is still under review. Program leaders say they will sort out each situation as it's brought to their attention.

Marriage policy objections are just a small part of a larger challenge the Minnesota Sex Offender Program is currently facing.

A federal class-action lawsuit has been filed by offenders who claim they're being held in violation of their constitutional rights.

Barbara Reyelts