Shari Burt, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, understands that not everyone is comfortable with the idea of sharing a city block with a sex offender. Then again, she says people who discover that they live near a Level III offender probably don’t need to take extraordinary precautions. She says everyone should be vigilant, regardless of where they live and where Level III offenders do and don’t live.
"People should look out for their safety at all times and the safety of their family and children," Burt said. "And the precautions that you would apply to someone you know is a sex offender, I would apply to how you conduct yourself in general," she said.
Sexual Offender Community Notification Coordinator Jon Hinchliff of the Minneapolis Police Department agrees. "It doesn’t make any difference where you live. You can live in a prosperous, affluent neighborhood. Offenders do have relatives, and they do have other family members and they can be living with them. You find the same type of concerns regardless of where you’re at."
Like Burt, Hinchliff urges everyone to maintain a routine of vigilance. Burt advised people looking for more information on how to keep yourself and your family safe to go to the Department of Corrections (DOC) Web site at www.corr.state. mn.us to read about specific precautions for parents and children to take every day.
Who and where People who go to the DOC Web site might be surprised how sterile the descriptions of the crimes committed by Level IIIs can be.
"Penetration" is used instead of "rape," for instance. Few of the capsule crime descriptions beneath the men’s photos give any description of the violence they used against the victims.
The capsules almost appear to be written more for lawyers than for the community members they’re meant to educate.
The five Level IIIs in Southwest are listed below. If you’re interested in finding out where the other 51 Level IIIs in Minneapolis live, or any of the 115 total who live in Minnesota, go to the DOC Web site. There, you can search for offenders by name, zip code, city or county. The site gives a photo of each offender, general address (street, block number and zip code), race/ethnicity, skin tone, hair color, eye color, height, weight, description of build, aliases, the name of the supervising agent (parole officer), release date, a list of the laws the offender was convicted of violating and the general description of the offenses.
Whittier: Michael Sean Worth, Jr., 25, lives on the 2000 block of Nicollet Avenue South. The DOC Website on Worth: "Offender has a history of sexual contact with minors (both males and females, ranging in age from 8 to 13). The contact includes penetration. The offender was known to the victims." However, a law enforcement source with access to Level III criminal files said Worth’s sexual crimes began when he was 12 years old. The source said Worth was later convicted of raping an 8-year-old boy and molesting a girl, age 13, whom he knew. He failed to complete a halfway house program and failed to complete sex offender treatment in 2000. In 2001, he again failed to complete halfway house treatment. Despite his failures, the state did not civilly commit him when he was released from prison two days before Christmas 2001.
Whittier: Keir Crockson, 34, also lives on the 2000 block of Nicollet Avenue South. The DOC Web site states that Crockson "has a history of sexual contact with both males and females and all age ranges. The contact included penetration. The offender was known and unknown to the victims." The law enforcement source states: "He admits fondling both sexes and various age groups throughout his life." No risk-to-reoffend score was available.
Kingfield: Shane Stephen Duncan, 28, lives on the 3800 block of Nicollet Avenue South. According to the DOC Web site, he "has a history of sexual contact with juvenile females. The contact includes penetration. The offender was known to the victims." However, the law enforcement source, reading from police files on Duncan, said "[Duncan] states freely that he had at least 18 additional victims [for which he was not charged]…His victims range in ages from 3 to 14…He’s sadistic and impulsive…As an opportunity presents itself, he takes advantage … There’s no mental process of critical thinking involved…It makes him extremely dangerous." Duncan failed to complete sex offender treatment programs offered him in prison.
Lyndale: Richard Carpenter, 51, 3100 block of Pleasant Avenue. "Offender has a history of engaging in sexual contact with female victims (ranging in age from 13 years old to adult). The contact includes fondling and penetration. The offender has been known to the victims." The law enforcement source, reading from Carpenter’s police file, said that Carpenter has a history of domestic abuse — including repeatedly shocking the mother of his child with a stungun — and mistreating animals, as well as arson and assault. His gravest offenses might be the repeated sexual assaults on his own daughter. Carpenter also choked and raped a daycare teacher at a church. His score on the risk-to-reoffend assessment: 17 – 4 points above the candidate-for-civil-commitment level. [Note: When Alfonso Rodriguez, the accused in the Dru Sjodin case, was about to leave prison, the DOC gave him a score of 13 on a risk-to-reoffend assessment. Level III offenders score 8 or higher; those who score 13 are candidates for civil commitment.]
Lyndale: Lionel Tohannie Yazzie, 27, is also in the 3100 block of Pleasant Avenue. DOC: "1) Offender engaged in sexual contact with victim (adult female). Offender approached victim on the street and forced her at knife point into an apartment. There, offender engaged in forced penetration. Offender was not known to the victim prior to offense. 2) Offender broke into victim’s home (female, age 7). Offender then exposed himself and requested the victim to engage in sexual contact. Offender also attempted penetration. The offender was an acquaintance of the victim."
The law enforcement source says the violent Yazzie has a risk-to-reoffend score of 58 — more than four times the score Rodriguez received.
Why they’re free
Chief Deputy County Attorney Pete Cahill said that the Department of Corrections never referred to the county for civil commitment three of the five Southwest Level III offenders — Crockson, Worth and Carpenter. The County Attorney’s office declined to pursue civil commitment for the other two — Yazzie and Duncan — because their cases didn’t meet the stringent legal standard for commitment: that the offender lacks sufficient control of his urges and is highly likely to offend again.
Said Cahill, "For example, we have to show that there was a course of conduct; so one rape would not be enough…We have to show it’s a course of harmful conduct. Some people have said, ‘Well, sexual offense is sexual offense.’ Well, it has to be more than the typical to be harmful, according to the court."
Cahill said he doesn’t have specifics on the cases of the five Level III offenders in Southwest because their case files are no longer in the County Attorney’s office.
He said, however, that the County Attorney’s office will be "taking a fresh look at" the cases.
In late December, the state Corrections Department mailed the names of over 200 Level III offenders it was recommending for civil commitment to counties across Minnesota. Cahill said Hennepin County is currently reviewing over 100 such cases. "We’re just trying to do triage and sort out the priority list for the ones we’re going to look at," he said. "Some of these guys are getting out soon, so we have to pay very quick attention to some of these cases."
Cahill said it’s possible that some Level III offenders in Southwest, as well as elsewhere in the city and state, could face civil commitment even after their releases. He said post-release commitment is theoretically possible, but he foresees significant legal obstacles in getting someone such as Lionel Yazzie or Richard Carpenter committed after release. "Common sense will tell you that the first thing his lawyer is going to say if a guy’s been out for five years without committing a new sex offense is that the County Attorney isn’t meeting their burden of showing that they’re highly likely to reoffend because they’ve been out for five years and have not committed a new sex offense."
Cahill said Hennepin County has pursued 75 percent of the cases for commitment referred to it by the DOC, with a success rate of 85 percent in those cases.
"Obviously these are people whom we consider a threat to public safety, and we’re going to be aggressive in looking at these cases."