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Trial set for former St. Croix Co. sex offender

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WILLMAR, Minn. -- Jury trial dates for Aug. 17 to 20 were set Monday for the Wisconsin sex offender accused of beating, sexually assaulting and robbing a 73-year-old woman in November at a rural church.

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Lindon Roy Knutson, 61, also has a pre-trial hearing set for April 12 in Kandiyohi County District Court. A pretrial hearing was conducted Monday afternoon, with attorneys in the case meeting in chambers with District Judge Michael J. Thompson.

Knutson was convicted in 1975 for the rape of a 17-year-old girl in St. Croix County.

The man has a "non-stop" history of sexual assault and crimes dating back to 1974, according to Connie Crowell, the first assistant county attorney who is prosecuting the case. She cited information from Wisconsin officials during the court hearing, noting that "he is one of their most dangerous predatory offenders."

Knutson has served prison time in three states, but has been incarcerated or committed in Wisconsin for multiple sex crimes, including raping and attempting to kidnap women, Crowell said.

Somehow, she said, Wisconsin officials released him from the Mendota mental facility earlier in 2009.

Although he has a Bemidji, Minn. address, Knutson spent much of the last 30 years in Wisconsin prisons or institutions. He is being held on $500,000 bail in the county jail facing four felony charges: first-degree criminal sexual conduct, first-degree aggravated robbery, third-degree assault and theft in connection to the Nov. 22 incident at the Crow River Lutheran Church in rural Belgrade.

According to Wisconsin Department of Human Services records, Knutson admitted to sexually assaulting nine juveniles, an adult woman and female prisoners of war while in Vietnam with the U.S. military.

He was arrested by Beltrami County officials two weeks before the Kandiyohi County incident and was charged with a felony for failing to comply with sex offender registration guidelines. He was released on a $2,500 bond three days later.

Authorities were called a church, about 5 miles south of Belgrade, on a report that a woman had been assaulted. A passerby had taken the woman to Paynesville Hospital. The woman gave officers a description of Knutson and his vehicle. She had given Knutson a tour of the church and directions to Bemidji before he is alleged to have physically and sexually assaulted her.

Knutson was arrested in Cosmos after the city's police chief stopped his vehicle for a traffic violation and realized Knutson and his car matched the descriptions given by the woman.

(The West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minn. is owned by Forum Communications Co.)

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