Sex offender describes years trying for release from program

A Minnesota sex offender is testifying about his frustrations over spending the past 23 years trying to get out of the state's civil commitment program.

Dennis Richard Steiner is the first patient to take the stand in a class-action lawsuit. More than 700 offenders say the program is unconstitutional because releases almost never happen.

The 65-year-old Steiner admits molesting 31 boys. He testified Tuesday that he has been through about 24 primary therapists during his years in the program.

While his medical records showed progress over the years, Steiner remains confined at the state's treatment facility in Moose Lake.

When asked whether he thought he would ever get out, Steiner said, "Not at this current rate."

Steiner says he keeps participating because he sees it as his only chance for release. He says he believes the lawsuit is the only reason he was recently endorsed to move into a program to prepare for release.

Attorneys for the state have argued that the treatment program is constitutional, with policies that have not harmed anyone. An attorney for the state questioned Steiner about the treatment he has received at Moose Lake, and whether he thought his therapists used their professional judgment. Steiner told the court they had.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.