Sex offender gets $84K in Minnesota residency ordinance suit

A registered sex offender who sued a Twin Cities suburb over its restrictions on where he could live will receive $84,000 as part of a settlement agreement.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge John Tunheim's order dismissed Thomas Wayne Evenstad's lawsuit against West St. Paul on Monday, The Pioneer Press reports.

"In all honesty, I think it's poetic justice," Evenstad said.

Evenstad filed the lawsuit in August after authorities told him he couldn't live in a West St. Paul home because of his first-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction.

Evenstad was convicted in 1999 of raping an 18-year-old woman. He's considered a Level 1 sex offender, meaning he's least likely to re-offend. He was released from prison in 2008.

The 52-year-old argued the city's 2016 ordinance restricting residency for sex offenders was too broad and unconstitutional because it imposed retroactive punishment that banned him from most of the city.

Tunheim said the ordinance was "significantly more restrictive than those upheld by the 8th Circuit."

"We think Judge Tunheim's decision is really important because it establishes that municipalities don't have unlimited discretion to pass law that restricts where people are allowed to live," said Adele Nicholas, Evenstad's attorney. "There are some limitations and the restrictions have to be reasonable."

The city amended the ordinance in March, loosening restrictions to apply only to Level 2 and Level 3 offenders, Nicholas said.

Evenstad said he's moved to St. Paul, which doesn't have limitations on where sex offenders can live.

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