HASTINGS, Minn. – A 61-year-old convicted rapist is hoping to conditionally return to the community where his lawyers argue he no longer poses a threat.

Thomas Duvall appeared in front of a three-judge Supreme Court panel Tuesday at the Dakota County Courthouse. On the first of what is expected to be a four-day hearing about Duvall’s petition for provisional discharge, Duvall’s attorney questioned therapists about his ability to re-enter society. Those therapists testified Duvall’s work as a volunteer and participation in reintegration programs suggest he could successfully transition back to the community, with conditions.

However, an assistant attorney general representing the Minnesota Department of Human Services and an attorney for Hennepin County both argued Duvall’s own journal during treatment – as well as recent polygraph tests – indicate he continues to be excited by sexually violent imagery.

Duvall has been convicted three times of sexual assaults against teenage girls in the 1970s and 80s, including once in 1987, when he tied up a girl with an electrical cord, beat her with the handle of a hammer and raped her.

Duvall’s case garners additional attention as the larger legal battle involving the state’s sex offender program continues. In June 2015, a federal judge ruled the program “unconstitutional.” That decision was overturned by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in January 2017. The offenders who filed the original lawsuit have until May 23 to appeal the higher court’s decision.