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Sex Offender Meeting Draws Hundreds of Concerned Residents

Golden Valley residents packed the Perpich Center for the Arts for a community meeting about a level three sex offender being released into a halfway house in the city.

A community meeting about a sex offender moving into Golden Valley drew a crowd of about 300 people. There were so many residents at Monday night’s meeting an overflow room was opened to accommodate everyone.

The crowds came out to learn more about Clarence Opheim, 64, who will be released into a halfway house in Golden Valley next Monday.

“I am very concerned,” Rachael Jensen said. The Golden Valley resident has two kids and is worried about their safety. “I don’t like the idea of a predator living in our community.”

Opheim has admitted to molesting 29 children. He has lured children, both male and female, with bribes, tricks and even weapons. He was sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison in 1988 for sexually abusing an 11 year-old boy. Opheim completed his sentence and is part of the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, a rehabilitation program in St. Peter.

“I know you’re all nervous,” Assistant Hennepin county Attorney George Widseth told the crowd.

“However, I can tell you that of the two hundred sex offenders that have asked to be released this is the first one I have not opposed.”

Widseth and a full panel of staff from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program explained to the public that Opheim has gone through twenty years of treatment and feel he is ready to be provisionally released into a secured halfway house.

“I know they are trying to quell our fears, but this man committed some heinous crimes,” Linda Walters said who came to the meeting with a neighbor.

“I know the authorities have a long list of rules and regulations for this man, but it still doesn’t seem like enough.”

Opheim is one of the first sex offenders to be released from the program in more than a decade and will be under strict supervision once released. Opeheim will only be allowed to leave the halfway house with an escort. He is not allowed a cell phone, or access to a computer. He has to submit to random drug testing, take polygraph tests and wear a GPS tracker at all times.

According to information released at the meeting, there are currently 17,000 registered sex offenders in Minnesota, 26 of them live in Golden Valley.

Shana Rowan March 06, 2012 at 03:34 PM
While this man's crimes are certainly heinous, he is far from the only "predator" or "felon" in the area. Additionally, he will be living in a halfway house and under law enforcement supervision. Why isn't there a community meeting and 300 terrified residents every time a convicted murderer, arsonist, drug dealer, or wife beater is released? Oh...right, there aren't public announcements or registries for those crimes. There certainly isn't a registry for people who have never been caught breaking the law or simply haven't yet. Be vigilant and aware. Teach your kids and loved ones about sexual abuse. Don't rely on the government to do it for you. www.endsexcrime.org
S. Kay March 06, 2012 at 07:55 PM
http://www.stopitnow.org/ Talk to your kids and keep talking to them. Do not become complacent. This highly publicized case has brought awareness to those 300 terrified residents and countless others about talking to their kids. Even though, Opheim may not be a huge threat, this awareness may help keep a child safe from sexual abuse from someone that is known to them and not on the list. http://www.stopitnow.org/
Shana Rowan March 06, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Good point, Sheree - I hope the possibility of a non-offender abusing a child was brought up at the meeting. And Stop It Now is a great source!

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