- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The state Court of Appeals upheld a judicial panel’s decision to provisionally release a man from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, saying Tuesday that the evidence supports the panel’s findings, despite conflicting expert opinions on the matter.

Jesse Lee, formally known as Dennis Wiesinger, pleaded guilty in 1976 to aggravated kidnapping and sodomy after he raped a woman and stabbed her multiple times with a file while on parole for a prior rape conviction, according to court documents.

He was committed as a psychopathic personality and in 2007 he entered the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, which houses civilly committed sex offenders after they complete their prison terms. In 2013, he petitioned for a provisional discharge from the program, and it was granted after hearings by a special review board and the judicial appeal panel.

The state appealed, arguing that the panel erred because it relied on an expert witness with inaccurate or untimely information. In its decision Tuesday, the appeals court recognized that a different judicial panel might have given more credit to other expert opinions but that this was not the court’s standard for review.

Reviewing the record in the light most favorable to the judicial appeal panel shows the evidence as a whole supports its findings, the appeals court ruled.

The state can appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said in a statement that she is disappointed by the decision and is exploring further legal options.

The Minnesota Sex Offender Program was recently deemed constitutional by a federal appeals court, reversing a lower court ruling that said it violated offenders’ rights because few people are ever released.

According to DHS, seven men are currently living in the community on provisional discharge, while an eighth has been fully discharged from the program.

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