Officials try to calm fears about sex offender moving to Golden Valley

1:20 PM, Mar 6, 2012   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - A handful of speakers tried to ease fears Monday night in front of a packed crowd at the Perpich Center for the Arts.

That's because 64-year old Clarence Opheim will be moving into a halfway house not too far away, near Zane and Highway 55.

Officials have ruled Opheim a sexual psychopath after he admitted to molesting 29 children.

For the past 19 years, he's been in a treatment facility, but is now the first civilly committed sex offender to receive a court-ordered provisional discharge in Minnesota.

He will continue treatment and will stay under state supervision.

"I came to believe it was the right thing to do, because Mr. Opheim appeared to me, the treatment team and outside experts, that he had been treated," said George Widseth, an assistant attorney with Hennepin County.

Widseth helped approve Opheim's placement, the first he says he's ever been in favor of approving. He says Opheim will be monitored 24-7 and will always have a trained escort with him.

Officials also claim Opheim will not have access to a computer or a cell phone, and he will wear a GPS bracelet.

Not to mention, they say the halfway house is always locked and if a window or door is broken, an alarm will sound.

These were all things that put the principal of the nearby King of Grace Lutheran School at ease.

"Those are things I had not heard before and somehow my families need to know that. They certainly know his offenses; they need to know the other side of it. I need to put my families at ease," said Allen Labitzky, the principal at King of Grace Lutheran School.

Yet some wondered with other schools and parks nearby, if a halfway house should even been located in the neighborhood years before in the first place.

"I turn to the city council think twice before you allow another halfway house," said one resident as people applauded.

Yet officials reassured people, they're community is safe with Opheim in it.

"You got someone looking out for you," said Widseth.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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