Questions remain after mental health patient escaped custody

A mental health patient from the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center went missing in Mankato on Aug. 25.
Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 7:40 PM CDT
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ST. PETER, Minn. (KEYC) - A mental health patient from the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center went missing in Mankato on Aug. 25.

The Mankato Department of Public Safety said 31-year-old Jesse Nikolas Rowland disappeared during a supervised group outing at the River Hills Mall.

He was found the next morning, but questions still remain about what happened.

In 2020, Rowland was convicted of possessing child pornography.

The case’s criminal complaint says more than 22,000 files of suspected child porn were found by police on his devices.

As a result, Rowland is now a court-committed patient at the treatment center.

When he went missing at the mall last month, Mankato police enlisted the public’s help in finding him, along with a warning that he’s “mentally ill and dangerous.”

KEYC News Now reached out to the Minnesota Department of Human Services to ask why a dangerous sex offender was allowed to visit the shopping center.

In a statement sent to KEYC, the DHS said, in part, that “patients may go on supervised outings based on the level of liberty they earn. This takes into account patients’ progress in treatment, the ability to manage their unique risk factors, and their behavioral stability ... Staff-to-patient ratios for outings are determined by the patient’s treatment team.”

The statement continued to say that “supervised community outings are an essential part of ongoing treatment because they gradually prepare patients for a safe and successful reintegration into community life.”

The treatment center is looking into what happened.

“Once the patient is safely returned, we conduct a thorough internal review of the incident and make appropriate changes to patient treatment plans as well as to policies, procedures, or staff training when warranted,” said Dr. Soniya Hirachan, executive director of forensic services for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The DHS says every outing is carefully planned with public safety as a top priority.