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Wendy Reuer, Published May 24 2012

North Moorhead facility plans juvenile sex offender program

MOORHEAD – A new program is starting here for low- to moderate-level juvenile sex offenders.

The West Central Regional Juvenile Detention Center has been preparing to start the program by June 1.

Center Director Steve Larson said there will be an education program in the non-secure area of the facility at 919 Eighth Ave. N., and the program for moderate-level offenders will be in the secure area.

Larson said the moderate offenders are defined loosely by the amount of therapy needed. He described juveniles who need the education program as ones that “maybe did something that was just a poor choice,” such as an inappropriate touch or a single peeping incident.

Moderate offenders would show a continual pattern of inappropriate behavior, Larson said.

Education programs are available in the metro area, but juvenile sex offenders declared moderate or in need of long treatments were being sent to Onamia, Minn., for treatment.

“The reason for establishing the moderate-level (treatment here) is because you have education, and Onamia but you don’t really have that middle niche of the offender that needs a year to 18 months of therapy,” he said.

The juvenile center is partnering with Benson Psychological Services of Fargo to provide the treatment programs.

In the education programs, parents will be asked to participate.

“Parents must take part in 10 lessons that go along with the therapy the child is learning in the program and so they are able to understand it,” Larson said.

Larson said he can serve up to eight juveniles in the moderate-level offender program.

The 38-bed facility serves 10 counties. Larson said the cost of the beds is paid for by counties when residents are taken to the facility and some of the therapy may also be covered by patient insurance.