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Sexual predator challenges civil commitment

James Irvin Rigenhagen, the former Little Falls resident who pleaded guilty of four counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct, challenged his civil commitment.

Rigenhagen challenged his “indeterminate commitment as a sexually dangerous person and sexual psychopathic personality, largely asserting errors in the district court’s findings of fact,” the Minnesota Court of Appeals reported in its findings.

The court affirmed his commitment saying since the record contained adequate evidence to support the district court’s findings of fact, there was no merit to Rigenhagen’s additional arguments.

In 2006, Rigenhagen pleaded guilty to four counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from his conduct on two occasions during which he sexually abused four girls between the ages of 7 and 12. Two offenses occurred in Hennepin County and two offenses occurred in Crow Wing County.

In Crow Wing County in July of 2006, Rigenhagen, then 51, was arrested after touching two young girls at the Walmart in Baxter. He faced similar charges in Hennepin County.

For the Hennepin County charges, Rigenhagen received a stayed sentence of 21 months with 25 years of probation and was ordered to serve one year in jail and complete inpatient treatment at Alpha House. For the Crow Wing County offenses, Rigenhagen received a stayed sentence of 54 months with 25 years of probation, one year in jail to be served consecutively and treatment at Alpha House.

Rigenhagen’s treatment at Alpha House was terminated before he completed the program after he violated the program’s rules and his probation terms. He was sent to prison in 2009.

He was determined appropriate for Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP) treatment, but didn’t have sufficient prison time remaining to complete the program. Crow Wing County petitioned for Rigenhagen’s civil commitment upon his prison release.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals stated the evidence at trial included testimony from two court-appointed psychologists, Dr. Mary Kenning and Dr. Robert Riedel.

Riedel stated Rigenhagen’s past behavior with a large victim pool of animals, children, teenagers and adults combined with his refusal to accept his activity as deviant, shows he is highly likely to reoffend.

“The district court also heard testimony regarding appellant’s sexual history, including deviant behavior such as his use of child pornography, bondage, dominance, sadomasochism and bestiality. The district court found that clear and convincing evidence established that appellant was a sexually dangerous person and a sexual psychopathic personality under Minnesota law and that MSOP was capable of meeting appellant’s treatment needs and public safety requirements.”

The district court also found Rigenhagen failed to show by clear and convincing evidence a less restrictive treatment program to meet his needs and public safety requirements was available. So Rigenhagen was ordered committed for an undetermined amount of time.

Rigenhagen argued there was not clear and convincing evidence he was a sexually dangerous person or a sexual psychopathic personality and the MSOP was not the least restrictive treatment option and had failed in its goal of providing effective treatment to rehabilitate the civilly committed.

Rigenhagen disputed district court findings that he was dangerous to other people among other findings that he lacked the ability to control his sexual impulses and displayed emotional instability, impulsiveness and a lack of customary standards of good judgment or ability to appreciate consequences for his personal acts.

For the civil commitment, the district court found evidence of habitual sexual misconduct with additional victims revealed besides the four involved in the convictions.

Rigenhagen testified he viewed pornography of infants and children and viewed it for two to eight hours a day. While he was a teacher, the appeals court noted: Rigenhagen fondled an 11 or 12-year-old student in his classroom and at his home; took photos of girls in his classroom without their knowledge; had sexual contact with sleeping victims who he was acquainted with; paid more money than usual to prostitutes on 10 to 12 occasions so he could be highly abusive; and was involved in bestiality with dogs, a goat and a sheep.

The district court found Rigenhagen had stalked victims in stores.

Rigenhagen stated Alpha House provided a less restrictive treatment option. The appeals court ruled because of Rigenhagen’s previous failure at Alpha House, a secure facility was needed to keep him from reoffending.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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