Committed Sex Offender to Switch Twin Cities Neighborhoods

Updated: 12/05/2012 7:47 AM KSTP.com By: Mark Albert

The only civilly committed sex offender currently on provisional discharge from secure facilities in Moose Lake and St. Peter will move to a different Twin Cities neighborhood, a sign of successful treatment in his supervised release, authorities said at a community notification meeting Tuesday evening.

Clarence Opheim, 65, will move into a south Minneapolis group residential home run by Zumbro House within the next two weeks after spending the past nine months at a halfway house in Golden Valley.

"He's committed to not re-offending," Dr. Elizabeth Barbo, reintegration director of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, told the several dozen residents gathered at Crosstown Covenant Church.

Opheim molested 29 boys he was familiar with during "100 incidents" and has spent most of his adult life locked up. He was provisionally discharged by a three-judge panel in March after being civilly committed for sex offender treatment in 1992.

Assistant Hennepin County Attorney George Widseth said he initially opposed Opheim's provisional discharge before becoming "very impressed" with the treatment program and convinced by psychological experts that Opheim "earned a release."

"I see him as the right guy to come out and I see a whole lot of safeguards," Widseth told the meeting.

But mother of two Jessica Pendergrass said her concerns have not been reduced.

"I could be in the library, with my child, turn my head, and he could be there. It doesn't make me feel that much more comfortable. It doesn't," Pendergrass said in an interview after the meeting ended.

Click here for more on the Minnesota Sex Offender Civil Commitment Task Force recommendations issued Monday for less restrictive alternatives.