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MN: Convicted rapist wins the right to live in West St. Paul


Thomas Evenstad was convicted in 1999 of raping an 18-year-old woman. In 2014, he picked up more convictions for stalking and harassing the victim, her family, investigators, and the judges involved in his prosecution.

When he finally got out of jail last August, he moved in to a friend’s apartment in West St. Paul. Three days later, police told his landlord that Evenstad couldn’t stay, threatening them both with criminal charges if he didn’t vacate.

That’s because West St. Paul doesn’t allow sex offenders to live within 1,200 feet of any school, daycare, or group home. Those restrictions cover about 95 percent of the residential area of the city. The rest of the available units either don’t rent to felons or are way too expensive for Evenstad.

So he sued, alleging that West St. Paul’s ordinance was thinly veiled “banishment” — a punishment on top of the punishment he’d already served.

“The ordinance was ostensibly aimed at protecting children, but they’ve applied it to people who never committed an offense against a child, like Tom,” said Chicago civil rights attorney Adele Nicholas. “We also objected to the city’s inclusion of this amorphous category of group homes in the list of prohibited locations. We don’t even know what that referred to, but that’s what resulted in almost the entire city being off limits.”

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Join the discussion

  1. AJ

    Another residency restriction bites the dust…without even having to go to trial.

  2. Janice Bellucci

    Congratulations and thanks to attorney Adele Nicholas who successfully represented a registrant….again!

    • Cassandra

      I second that sentiment! Thank you Adele for the great civil rights work you are doing in the Midwest!

  3. Lovecraft

    Awesome, another residency restriction is gone. At some point if the general public cant take a sympathetic route when dealing with ex offenders maybe knowing they can no longer banish them will lead to changes to the registry so their homes are not “devalued.” Either way, this civil rights issue is coming to a head. I would rather have some acknowledgement from the general public that our plight is overburdened, but I will take having their pocketbook being hit in the form of their real estate being devalued for them to clamor for change.

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