Last week’s escape of a sex offender in a state treatment program during a group outing at River Hills Mall in Mankato is under scrutiny by top Republicans at the Minnesota Legislature.   Anoka Senator Jim Abeler says:

“This fellow had a history of images of kids as little as four years old, and thousands of them on his computer, apparently.   And to let him go someplace where there could be children or young people I think is just pretty ill-advised.”

Doctor Soniya Hirachan with the Saint Peter Regional Treatment Center says supervised outings are a very important part of treatment and patients rarely go missing — but if they do, she says officials take immediate steps to inform and protect the public, then do a “thorough internal review” after the patient is found.

Abeler says a legislative hearing is “certainly a possibility.”  The 31-year-old sex offender at the Saint Peter Regional Treatment Center escaped during an outing last Thursday afternoon and authorities captured him the next morning.

Abeler says circumstances like this compound the public’s fear — which he’s heard during his re-election campaign:

“I’ve been to almost 12-thousand doors, greeting people, and… the number-one concern they express is their community safety, and their feeling safe in their neighborhoods and even going about their business.”