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Man charged with assault believed he might reoffend

Lindon Knutson

A sexually violent person released in January in Wisconsin and now being held in Willmar on charges of assaulting a 73-year-old woman told Wisconsin authorities last year he was 35 to 40 percent sure he would commit another sexual offense if released, according to Wisconsin Department of Human Services records.

Lindon R. Knutson, 61, recently was charged in Kandiyohi County Court with felony charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, first-degree aggravated robbery, third-degree assault and theft related to the assault of an elderly church custodian Nov. 24.

Knutson, who admitted to sexually assaulting nine juveniles, an adult woman and female prisoners of war while in Vietnam with the U.S. military, was sentenced to prison in 1975 and civilly committed in 1999 until he was released by the state of Wisconsin in March.

In May, he moved to northwestern Wisconsin, residing first in Rice Lake, Wis., from May 6 to July 10 and then in an apartment in Cameron, Wis., from July 10 until he violated the Wisconsin sex offender registry sometime in October.

Knutson was located Nov. 11 in Bemidji and then arrested on Nov. 14 in Beltrami County for failing to comply with sex offender registration guidelines. He was released on a $2,500 bond three days later.

Madison-based psychologist William A. Merrick, in a Jan. 9 report, said Knutson suffers from sexual sadism, a mental disorder that affects his emotional capacity and predisposes him to commit sexually violent acts. Merrick then said Knutson was not "more likely than not" to commit another sexually violent offense because of the progress Knutson made during treatment and recommended his release.

Knutson is being held on a $500,000 bond for reportedly hitting, sexually assaulting and robbing a woman for not giving him money after she gave him a tour of the Crow River Lutheran Church, located on U.S. Highway 71 about five miles south of Belgrade.

In a Dec. 22 interview with Merrick, Knutson said his risk to commit a sexual offense if released, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being absolute certainty of reoffending, was 3.5 to 4. Two formal risk assessments indicated Knutson was in the "medium" and "high" ranges to reoffend.

Knutson, who was living in a Madison neighborhood at the time of the interview, was visiting a nearby senior citizens center several times a week and believed he was appropriately managing anger issues and deviant sexual desires.

Knutson, who was convicted in St. Croix County Court in 1975 for raping a 17-year-old girl, suffered from a personality disorder that exhibited a "persistent disregard" including the beliefs that sexual contact with teenagers was appropriate, women were deceitful and men were entitled to have sex with anyone they wanted, according to the report.

The records also indicate:

Knutson was court-martialed from the U.S. Navy in 1969 for striking an officer; tortured and raped Vietnamese female prisoners of war in 1969. He threatened and raped a 17-year-old girl in western Wisconsin in 1974. He accosted a 16-year-old girl at Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, Wis., in 1976. He escaped from Mendota in 1977 with a female patient to Chicago; attempted a sexually motivated abduction of a 16-year-old girl in Chicago in 1978, and was arrested and returned to Mendota. He also attempted to abduct a 50-year-old woman riding her bicycle in 1985 near Madison.