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Bemidji man indicted for committing crime of violence while in non-compliance with sex offender registration laws

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Lindon Roy Knutson, 62, has been indicted in federal court in the District of Minnesota for committing a crime of violence while non-compliant with national sex offender registration laws.

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Knutson is the Wisconsin sex offender who listed a Bemidji address but has spent much of the past 30 years in Wisconsin prisons and in mental institutions for multiple sex crimes.

The indictment, which was filed Tuesday, charges Knutson with one count of failure to register as a sex offender and one count of commission of a crime of violence while not registered as a sex offender.

The indictment alleges that from Aug. 1, 2009, through Nov. 24, 2009, Knutson failed to notify the state of Minnesota of his change of address, as required by the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act. Knutson's designation as a sex offender was based on a 1974 rape conviction in Wisconsin.

The indictment also alleges that on Nov. 24, 2009, while in non-compliance with the sex offender registration requirements, Knutson committed first-degree sexual conduct.

According to state documents, he assaulted a 73-year-old woman in a church in Kandiyhoi

County. The report indicates he shoved the woman into a wall, knocked her to the ground, and

kicked her in the ribs. Then, after sexually assaulting her, he took her purse and fled. Once apprehended, Knutson was charged by the state of Minnesota via a four-count complaint, which included one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Knutson pleaded guilty to the charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and on May 14, he was sentenced to 26 years in state prison for that crime. He remains incarcerated at this time in the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.

The federal charges now filed against Knutson represent the first time the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Minnesota has charged anyone with committing a crime of violence while being non-compliant with the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act 2006. According to that statute, if an individual, who fails to register as a sex offender as required, commits a crime of violence, he or she faces a potential maximum penalty of 30 years in prison for that crime and a mandatory minimum of five years, which must be served consecutively to any sentence imposed for being non-compliant with the registration requirements.

If convicted in this case, Knutson also faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years for the separate charge of failing to register as a sex offender. All sentences will be determined by a federal district court judge.

The national sex offender registry has strong ties to Minnesota. The Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act of 1994, named for the abducted child from St. Joseph, Minn., required, for the first time, that all states track sex offenders. The 1997 Jacob Wetterling Improvement Act, among other things, directed that all states participate in the National Sex Offender Registry, providing law enforcement with one source for information about sex offenders from across the country. That registry eventually went public via the Internet and, as of 2006, became known as the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, where anyone can search for information regarding sex offenders. The website was named after a young college co-ed from Minnesota who attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and was abducted and killed in 2003. Alfonso Rodriguez was convicted of the crime in federal court and now awaits the death penalty.

The federal case filed against Knutson resulted from an investigation by the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office, the Wisconsin Office of Judicial Assistance, the Kandiyhoi County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Marshals Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin S. Ueland.

An indictment is a determination by a grand jury that there is probable cause to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. A defendant is presumed innocent until he or she pleads guilty or is proven guilty at trial.

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