Minnesota prosectors are going after younger sex offenders, not just serial violators with long criminal histories, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Ryan Mely was 18 when he admitted ambushing a girl on a sidewalk, grabbing her breasts and shoving his hands down her pants. Mely, the son of a convicted child molester, has since spent nearly three years behind bars for his first adult sex offense. Now, prosecutors want the 21-year-old with a history of disturbing sexual behavior labeled either a sexual psychopathic personality or a sexually dangerous person so he can be locked up indefinitely at a state psychiatric hospital.
The average age of a committed sex offender in Minnesota is 37, but the number who are 25 and younger is on the rise. Of the 30 sex offenders committed in 2003, about 16 percent were in that age bracket. That climbed to about 28 percent of the 118 sex offenders committed in 2007. Some critics say prosecutors, having cycled through the worst-of-the-worst sex offenders and committed 371 to state hospitals, are reaching for more, often tenuous cases. “As a practical matter, we’ve gotten rid of the old slam-dunk cases,” said defense attorney David Kraker. “Most of the cases I’ve seen come through the system, the behaviors are not quite as bad and the cases are a bit more iffy.”