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Registered citizen sues for the right to live in West St. Paul, Minnesota

By Susan Du . . . Thomas Evenstad, 52, moved into a duplex in West St. Paul on August 21. Three days later, police called his landlord, demanding that he be evicted within 10 days.

That’s because Evenstad was convicted of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in 1999.

As a Level I sex offender – the lowest risk category – he does not need to notify the public whenever he moves into a new community. But police keep tabs on him, and certain cities adopt ordinances limiting where he’s allowed to live. West St. Paul, for instance, doesn’t permit sex offenders to live within 1,200 feet of any school, daycare, or group home. Those who live with their relatives or lived in town prior to the ordinance are exempted.

But those restrictions cover so much of West St. Paul that there’s really no place left, Evenstad says. He believes the city’s rules amount to an effective banishment.

Chicago civil rights attorneys Adele Nicholas and Mark Weinberg, who fight residency restriction laws across the Midwest, agreed to help Evenstad sue West St. Paul. They are arguing that banning him from the city without assessing his likelihood to re-offend imposes another punishment nearly two decades after his conviction.

“Restrictions like this don’t improve public safety,” Nicholas says. “They actually oftentimes increase risk factors for re-offense by isolating people from the community, their families, and other important support, pushing people into homelessness, making it very difficult to find or keep employment.”

The judge in this case has granted Evenstad permission to stay put for the time being. His landlord, who was informed of Evenstad’s status before he moved in, has joined the suit as a plaintiff.

West St. Paul passed its residency restriction ordinance in December 2016 in response to a federal judge’s ruling that the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) was unconstitutional. At the time, sex offenders who had already served their sentences were being committed to MSOP’s prison-like treatment centers for life with virtually no chance of getting out. Afraid that a surge of offenders would soon be released, many cities preemptively passed ordinances to limit the number that could enter their communities.

As it turned out, no major changes came to MSOP. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against its residents, and last month the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case. Nevertheless, West St. Paul’s residency restrictions stand.

The city has argued that Evenstad’s lawsuit should be dismissed because other 8th Circuit Court cases have already found certain residency restrictions constitutional. In a recent memorandum, the city also proposed some alternative places for Evenstad to live within the borders of West St. Paul, including three apartment buildings, residential rental units, and single family homes located mostly on the edge of town.

“Given the many rental options existing in West St. Paul alone, Plaintiff has failed to show a real threat of homelessness and, consequently, has failed to demonstrate irreparable harm,” the city wrote.

Evenstad calls those alternatives “red herrings,” either far too expensive for his means, occupied, or exclusive to those who pass a background check.

“I called these apartments and they don’t rent to convicted felons, let alone a convicted sex offender,” he says. “[The shelter] or the street are my options.”

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This topic contains 19 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Jonny everyman 1 month ago.

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  • #26849 Reply

    Al

    Like the term ” sex offender” the wording for ” re-offend” should be changed. Being homeless and jobless could make someone turn to crime to sustain ones self. But I highly doubt that one would commit another sexual offence because of such a thing.

    • #26869 Reply

      Elizabeth

      I totally agree with All’s comments about changing the word “re-offend”. That term does suggest that lack of housing may lead to another sex offense being committed. There is no evidence to support this, & is highly prejudicial against registered cirizens.

  • #26850 Reply

    SW

    Welcome to Minnesota. Land of 10,000 rules. Minnesota Nice, except to certain people.

    I live there (here) and it’s a joke. Not as bad as Ohio or Florida, but we’re getting there. Liberal, conservative, we’re hated equally.

  • #26859 Reply

    John U

    Former offenders may not reoffend to meet physical needs like food and shelter, but acting out behaviors can be attempts at emotional survival. Men who offended previously can experience fear, powerlessness, anger, loneliness – all of which are liable to be acted on in sexually abusive behaviors if the men feel backed into a corner in response to the active measures society takes to ostracize them.

    • #26891 Reply

      Ranger11bv

      John U; if you are facing a stressed out situation, why does it have to be sexual in nature to “blow off steam” ??? I have been the victim of a seriously psychotic woman who believes that anyone she does not know is against her. She has broken my windows, broken my door down AND stolen all of my electronics!! That said, with your reasoning, i should go out and go crazy on the first woman i see….. were do you get your info??

      By the way, this woman, I put a order of protection on here and as of today has over 7 police reports from me alone in the past 3 months. But hey, im the sexually crazed one, so I dont have any rights….

    • #26909 Reply

      Willie Trent

      Bank Robber- Will not reside within 1000ft of bank
      Murderer- Will not reside within 1000ft of people
      Car theft- Will not reside within 1000ft of Car lot

      Future legislation
      Article B.S- The scarlet letter Bill

      Adopted by Senator slime

  • #26860 Reply

    CB

    I live in MN too. How do we initiate reforms? IMHO Let’s reform the MN Registry laws, not chip away at tiny ( and still very life threatening) bits. Can registrants band together to challenge the MN Registry, get it written or thrown out?

    • #26870 Reply

      SW

      I don’t know of any reform proponents in Minnesota personally. Perhaps some of the many counselors would be willing to form such a group, along with us ‘citizens on the registry’.

      My previous counselor (I’m finished long ago) was advocating in Washington DC, but I don’t know what he’s doing these days.

  • #26862 Reply

    Shawna Baldwin

    Actually Al when someone is pushed into isolation and treated as if they carry the plague, it can aid in that person committing another crime. That’s not saying it would be a “re-offence” as those rates are lower than society believes. However, family support and friends help people stay on track no matter why they went off track for a while. Everyone needs to have people they can pull strength from when they have none left. When the laws start taking away this very normal need for people it can make them think there is no reason to be doing so well and do everything right for however long they have been labeled a sex offender, because they just keep getting punished anyways. So there are times we can question if all the hard work is worth it when we keep being treated as if we have not grown or learned. Everyone has their price to pay for breaking the law. However with sex offences the punishment never ends.

  • #26863 Reply

    Michael Christianson

    Than you for addressing those who have committed a past sex offense as citizens on the registry. I get angry when we continue to permit the politicians and victims rights organizations to peddle the false fears and over-hyped dangers of their “ever lurking” sex offender in the neighborhood.) When I reply to police blogs, news paper articles, and such, I always use “citizens on the registry” and I avoid – at all costs – using the unjustified label of “sex offender.”

  • #26871 Reply

    david

    We all know how dumb residency restrictions are. The folks defending these laws know it too. Sometimes those who believe in something they know isn’t right tend to be real hard to convince otherwise. Because they don’t use logic. And it’s really hard to change someones mind when emotion is involved.

    So sue ’em. It’s good news the judge is allowing Thomas to stay and that his landlord supports him. I think he’s gonna beat this. Just my opinion.

    What is it with sex in this country? In other countries do people wake up every morning to the news of another celebrity being accused of “sexual misconduct”? We are being conditioned to believe that people like Kevin Spacey are monsters while our reptilian overlords (kidding- not really) destroy the planet.

    All a supposed victim has to do is make an accusation and the accused has his life destroyed. Just like that. Must be an incredible feeling of power. Someone brushes a knee decades ago and now it’s breaking headlines??

    My opinion is we need to treat many of these sex assault cases as a mental health issue. Right now, if a person has sexual proclivities that are considered deviant, there isn’t much help available. In fact, if a person seeks professional help they may be turned in to the authorities.

    Often people tend to punish in others that which they don’t like in themselves. On the one hand, youth is part of the ideal of human beauty. Aren’t most people attracted to youth as opposed to age? I’d bet almost every man on the planet has had a sexual thought about someone under 18. Instead of admitting this we pass laws to destroy anyone who dares cross the line.

    I’m not advocating for lowering age of consent….just sort of baffled by the extreme outrage over anything remotely sexual.

    Kinda rambled on here, i know. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. Good luck Thomas!!!!!!!!!!

  • #26893 Reply

    Saddles

    Human behavior? It seems like something is missing here. It’s like man against man with these sex offender issues. Those in law enforcement seem to want to protect and serve but just ponder for a second…. notice I did not use the word “think”. Now when people starting to tell people where to live or issues like that it isn’t very good.
    If that’s the case than we should not be allowed to even blend into society. Two wrongs don’t make a right do they?
    Sure none of us even wanted to be on here to address these issues but a lot of us are wrapped up in this in one way or another.
    And yes I do have a word for a lot of people on here. Sure its good to address issues but sometimes one have to use that two -edged sword, yes Brenda Jones knows what I mean and I’m sure a lot of you all do also. Sure the truth will set you free.
    Now I was caught up I an internet sting which I’m sure a lot on here were. Are we all not carnal by nature. Now who ever heard of a minister of God duping someone into a sexual encounter? Yes defending justice is Good but duping someone is not. That in itself is a sin.. Sure they will offer a plea deal to some but actually it was all a cunning issue. Is this country getting out of balance?
    And not some people can’t live in certain parts of MN. Who’s world is this man’s world or God’s world? So we all need to step up to the plate to abolish a lot of this sex offender issues such as speaking out on all this subject just as NARSOL is giving us the opportunity to do.
    Even some of the sister sites, such as women against the registry are up in arms about all this. If one can go thru life and never get into trouble in some form he or she should hold their breath and thank the lord they never cheated on their taxes or anything else to cause another to stumble. We all need to step up not only for us but for others as a lot of this is so out of balance and uncanny.
    I wonder today if people still live under mushrooms.

  • #26908 Reply

    Saddles

    You know Robin actually this is a good discussion. Well one lady up in arms on here seems to agree with some of these deceptive tactic’s that are against even biblical knowledge. CW suggest how do we all go about changing a lot of this.
    Now the internet was for a good purpose. Even background checks are for good purposes. Can we even say Vietnam was for good and bad purposes or did we just get involved in it to help our neighbors out. Even some went to prison for not wanting to go to war. Some of those in high pleases don’t even stop to smell the roses that are in positions of authority, and I might say some don’t even take a look at bible passages.
    I guess its easier, instead of using “shoe leather” to get on a computer and con someone, they call it “under cover”. Now I would not like to get into any of this but I’m in it just like you all.
    Sure protecting and serving is good but when it goes against right and wrong and via the internet than that brings up more issues.
    Maybe people should go back to CB radio days. Their was nothing like this. I believe Robin hit on a good topic to discuss. Sure we can all be against cat houses and smut magazines but the government gets a kick back on all that.
    I believe leaders of the nation should wake up and let people have the right to speak.
    Didn’t we all speak out about the Vietnam war?

  • #26914 Reply

    Art

    The whole residency restrictions are totally asinine if you think about it. You can be living next door or across the street from families that have children but not allowed within so many feet of the multitude of places they restricted.
    Here’s a unique idea, how about if the parents keep a better eye on their kids and we wouldn’t need any of this nonsense.

  • #26924 Reply

    Jonny everyman
    • #26962 Reply

      Maestro

      I love how they made a reference to Bogart and Becall in that article. Becall was 19, a grown woman who could date anyone she pleased.
      Why didn’t someone mention Elvis and Priscilla? That would have made more sense (24 and 14).

  • #26943 Reply

    patricia winchild

    These laws MUST be among the most unjust in U.S. history. They’ve been fueled by 3 things, including an uneducated citizenry:
    1. Unscrupulous politicians who use them to fire up those who don’t know how unjust the laws are, how dishonestly they’ve been misrepresented.
    2. Overly zealous prosecutors who have called them “easy win” cases and use them for leverage to step up job wise and
    3. Drama -driven media, esp. Fox (or Faux) “news” media which wouldn’t know the truth if it hit them in the face. It’s ironic the sins of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly when their company used these laws to spout the worst lies about those on the registry and the laws. The recent expo that showed the Supreme Court created the laws against offenders based on the most egregious lie about sex offenders re-offending is the worst and how many people know about this?

    If you are someone who cares about the truth and justice, educate yourself…You’re in for lots of surprises.
    http://sosen.org/

    • #27009 Reply

      Tim lawver

      Patricia,
      A well formed argument you make.

      Now add the powerful abilities of an electronic database to the mix and you get unconstitutional policy motivated behavior for the purpose of party security.

      NSA has such a database and have been caught using it for warrantless search. The collection of so called METADATA is another expression of politically driven postures & motivation used by those who operate them for purposes outside of public safety. The NSA databases were presumably owned by the people for the people, AND NOT AGAINST THEM. So while the American people purchased the hardware for the whole of the people, uses by a certain segment to maintain party security is completely outside of constitutionally established purpose.

      When THE PEOPLE finally figure out what has gone on since the 1990s, with these databases they will revolt. Some already are. Head on over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation to read more at EFF.ORG.
      GODS SPEED!

  • #26945 Reply

    Janette

    We live in Minnesota. My son has to register. It stemmed from a conviction in Texas where the girl said she was 18, but was 16. The legal age for consent in Texas is 17 and the legal age for consent in Minnesota is 16. My son was in prison for 4 years and he was released in January this year. He wanted to move to West Saint Paul to live with his brother after he was released. Because this law was passed in December 31, 2016 he was unable to live with his brother. Also, because he moved here from out of state he has to register in Minnesota for life.

  • #26968 Reply

    Tim L

    The reality here is the ELECTRONIC DATABASES KNOWN AS SORS ARE BEING USED TO IMPOSE ,” AFFIRMATIVE DISABILITY and RESTRAINT!”. After the fact.

    The disabilities and restraints resemble punishment because they put bars around areas where citizen may exercise liberty.

    In 2003 SCOTUS majority declared 6-3 that they could not see any affirmative disability or restraint within the Whetterling Act thus upholding it against EX POST FACTO attack.

    The 3 judges in the minority (Breyer, Ginsberg, Stevens) called BULLSHIT.

    Residency and proximity bans ARE merely fruits of a poison root commonly known as Sex offender registration.

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