In the Spotlight

News & Features
Go to Session 2004
DocumentSession 2004
DocumentFinance and taxes
DocumentHealth Care
DocumentPublic Safety
DocumentSocial Issues
DocumentSocial Services
DocumentStadium Issues
More from MPR
Your Voice
DocumentJoin the conversation with other MPR listeners in the News Forum.

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
Efforts to keep sex offenders locked up won't affect those already seeking release
Larger view
Level 3 sex offender Randy Siem has been convicted of molesting young girls. (Corrections Department photo )
Minnesota lawmakers are considering several proposals to toughen penalties for the state's most severe sex offenders -- indeterminate sentencing, life without parole and even the death penalty in cases involving murder. But even if they make it harder for some offenders to get out of prison, the changes won't affect sex offenders scheduled for possible release under current sentencing laws. Attorneys for the state will be in a Faribault County courtroom Tuesday to try to keep one such level three sex offender locked up. The attorney general's office and the Faribault County attorney are asking a judge to civilly commit Randy Siem, 47, of Winnebago. Siem has several convictions for molesting young girls. Siem is one of dozens of sex offenders coming under scrutiny after the arrest of level three sex offender Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. in the kidnapping of a missing college student.

St. Paul, Minn. — Court documents filed by the attorney general's office and the Faribault County attorney argued that Randy Siem is a sexually dangerous person, and should be committed to a secure psychiatric hospital. The civil commitment petition said Siem sexually assaulted six girls between the ages of 4 and 12 over about 10 years. Siem pleaded guilty to two separate counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct.

Court documents said Siem was diagnosed with pedophilia and anti-social personality disorder. Solicitor General Lori Swanson said Siem has a high risk of reoffending.

"If you look at his scores on this scoring test used for sexual predators, at different times, he scored a 13, a 14, which is a high number for him to be scoring," Swanson said. "I think Alfonso Rodriguez scored either a 12 or a 13, depending on when you looked at it, and this guy Siem is scoring even higher than Alfonso Rodriguez."

Larger view
Image Bill Donnay of the Minnesota Corrections Department

Alfonso Rodriguez is a convicted sex offender who is accused in the kidnapping of Dru Sjodin in northern Minnesota late last year.

Swanson said the state Corrections Department did not recommend Siem as a candidate for civil commitment. He was released from prison last year, and Swanson says he violated the terms of his probation shortly after that.

"One of the conditions of his release is you can't recontact any victim," Swanson said. "He was out a matter of weeks before he was found pitching a tent on the adjoining farm of one of his juvenile victims, which I think is quite frightening."

Siem was not accused of any new crimes, but a judge ordered him held at the St. Peter regional treatment center until the civil commitment proceedings are done.

Siem's attorney didn't return a phone call seeking comment, and corrections officials won't comment on specific cases. But Bill Donnay, interim director of the Corrections Department's risk assessment and community notification unit, said determining whether to refer an offender for civil commitment is an imprecise science. He said state psychologists are evaluating a pool of very serious offenders.

Larger view
Image State Rep. Deb Hilstrom

"When you see, you know, 30 to 50 cases a month, the job is to select the most likely to reoffend, and the most likely to cause the most harm," Donnay said. "And so sometimes it's a tough call to say this one doesn't quite meet the criteria for that most serious category."

Siem is one of 236 Level 3 sex offenders whose files were sent to county attorneys last December. Corrections Commissioner Joan Fabian said after the arrest of Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., that she wanted to make sure the department hadn't missed someone who should have been civilly committed.

The attorney general's office helps rural counties with civil commitment petitions, and chief deputy Kris Eiden said the office believes there are other Level 3 offenders who should be locked up.

"We estimate that there are about 20 that should have been referred for civil commitment," Eiden said. "So they are persons who are similar to Siem in terms of their past behavior and conduct."

Eiden said many more Level 3 offenders are set to be released in the coming years. Minnesota lawmakers are debating longer sentences for sex offenders, but those penalties won't affect offenders who have already been sentenced and served their time.

State Rep. Deb Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center, said a Level 3 sex offender moved into her community last year. She has a list from corrections officials of the Level 3 offenders whose files were sent to county attorneys, and said she worries that legislative proposals won't address the current problem.

"We need to make sure that at a time we're talking about how to punish the others in the future, that we don't forget about this 236 that are already released or about to be released -- and again, the next generation that are sentenced to 20 or 30 years already that will be getting out," Hilstrom said.

Republican lawmakers want to sentence the most violent sex offenders to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But they also said the civil commitment process will continue to be needed for offenders getting out before tougher sentences would kick in.

Respond to this story
News Headlines
Related Subjects