A Minnesota lawmaker is looking for answers after a 31-year-old child predator in the custody of the state escaped during a mall outing Thursday afternoon in Mankato.
The Mankato Department of Public Safety said Jesse Nikolas Rowland was on a supervised “group community outing” at the River Hills Mall around 2 p.m. Thursday when he went missing.
“Rowland is a court committed patient at Saint Peter Regional Treatment Center and is mentally ill and dangerous,” police said.
Police apprehended Rowland Friday and returned him to the hospital, but Minnesota Rep. Joe Schomacker wants to know why a “state agency is conducting group outings with dangerous sex offenders to locations where children are going to be present.”
“Because of this policy, a convicted child pornography felon who has been described by police as mentally ill and dangerous was able to escape from custody,” he said.
The Saint Peter Regional Treatment Center is operated by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. According to court records, Rowland pleaded guilty to four counts of child pornography possession in December 2020.
“The search of the devices resulted in location of 22,710 files of suspected child pornography of which 11,917 were unique. The images were sent to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The report generated by NCMEC of the 22,628 files submitted to them resulted in 1,507 identified child victims,” says the criminal complaint in Rowland’s case.
Some of the children were as young as four, according to the charges.
“This afternoon I sent a letter to the Department of Human Services demanding answers on this senseless and terrible policy that puts the public at risk,” Schomacker said. “I’m grateful that law enforcement was able to apprehend the individual, but this should have never happened in the first place.”