NEW ULM - A 58-year-old male, level 2 sex offender was indeterminately committed as a sexually dangerous person to the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) in Moose Lake and St. Peter and to any successor program, Nov. 25 in Brown County District Court.
Judge Robert Docherty ruled that there is clear and convincing evidence that John H. Thurlinger suffers from a sexual personality, or other mental disorders and lacks control over his sexually harmful behavior. He has been in state correctional facilities for the past decade for a two-count conviction of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to court documents.
Docherty ruled that Thurlinger, formerly of St. Peter, who most recently lived in New Ulm, is highly likely to engage in further harmful sexual conduct; he is dangerous to others and needs treatment that the MSOP is capable of providing while protecting public safety; and there is no less restrictive program that can meet his needs or protect public safety, according to court documents.
Thurlinger's earlier conviction was based on criminal sexual conduct with a seven or eight-year-old female victim reported to Brown County Social Services in October 2002; and criminal sexual conduct with a seven-year-old girl reported to a school counselor in March 2002, according to court documents.
Last year, the Brown County Attorney's Office retained Minneapolis clinical and forensic psychologist Dr. Peter Marston to access Thurlinger. Marston opined that Thurlinger's documented offenses strongly suggest he could be diagnosed as a pedophile, based on the age of three victims, according to court documents.
Because Thurlinger was diagnosed with alcohol dependency, a personality disorder and anti-social behavior, coupled with treatment refusal and denial of committing sexual offenses, Marston stated that Thurlinger was "entrenched in his refusal to address his sexual disorder that is probably a lifelong disorder," according to court documents.
Thurlinger waived his right to be present and to testify in Brown County District Court last month. His father was a verbally and physically abusive alcoholic who physically abused Thurlinger and his mother while under the influence, according to court documents.
Thurlinger said four of his siblings suffered from alcoholism including a brother who is dying from liver problems brought on by his drinking. He said eight of his 10 siblings have a history of alcoholism and two have had depression.
According to a complaint filed earlier this fall in Nicollet County District Court, Thurlinger faced six felony counts of criminal sexual conduct with a seven or eight-year-old at the time of the first assault. The incidents occurred in St. Peter between 1984 and 1989, according to court documents.
"It's a foregone conclusion we'll appeal the decision to commit John Thurlinger to the Minnesota Court of Appeals," said his attorney Ryan B. Magnus of Mankato said.
"The law in this case is in flux at the moment with constitutional issues," Magnus said. "I understand why people can be very concerned about Thurlinger's previous acts, but I think we have resources in Minnesota that can manage his risk in the community. There are individuals who were significantly higher risks that were successfully released into communities."
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).