- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

LE CENTER, Minn. (AP) - Dozens of Le Center residents attended a tense public hearing Tuesday night on a convicted sex offender who is being moved out of a state program and into the rural community.

Robert Jeno served nearly 11 years in prison after he was convicted of using force to sexually assault two adult women in 1982 and 1983. He was committed to Minnesota’s sex offender program in 1992.

Jeno is being moved to Shiloh’s Hope, an all-male adult care facility in Le Center. It’s the first provisional release from the program to be placed in a rural community. The previous two were sent to facilities in Minneapolis.

The Mankato Free Press reports the majority of the crowd of about 70 at the meeting Tuesday night was opposed to the transfer. Among them was Stacy Sycks, a mother of three children younger than 4 whose backyard leads directly to the yard of Shiloh’s Hope.

“We came into this meeting to get some reassurance (about the safety of our children),” she said. “We definitely didn’t get that. They only focused on Mr. Jeno’s reintegration. I didn’t feel the community was being factored in.”

During the hearing, which largely remained civil, officials tried to reassure the crowd that layers of monitoring will let them know if he violates conditions of his provisional release. Under terms of the release, which Shiloh’s Hope and the state will closely monitor, when released into the community he must wear a GPS monitoring device and his prohibited from having contact with children or using social networks. He also must periodically submit to a lie detector test.

Le Center was chosen in part because Jeno has family living in the area, Minnesota Sex Offender Program Reintegration Director Elizabeth Barbo said.

The provisional release, which takes effect on Dec. 22, was ordered by the Minnesota Supreme Court appeal panel. It found Jeno had completed treatment under the sex offender program and the only issue remaining was “maintenance and management of his mental illness.”

The action on Jeno comes after a class-action lawsuit filed against the state that alleges the program is unconstitutional by essentially allowing indefinite detention without treatment.

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Information from: The Free Press, https://www.mankatofreepress.com

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