Convicted serial rapist can seek release in another two years
In a split decision, the Oregon Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision on Wednesday, June 13, voted 2-1 against paroling serial rapist Richard Troy Gillmore.
Board Chairman Aaron Felton and members Candace Wheeler and Jeremiah Stromberg deliberated for more than an hour following the three-plus hour hearing at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
One board member voted to release Gillmore in October, while the other two not only voted against releasing him, but wanted to push out how long he must wait before requesting another parole hearing. Inmates seeking parole can ask for a parole consideration hearing every two years unless all three board members decide to extend that time frame up to 10 years.
But because only two of the three board members wanted such an extension - they wanted to push the date back five years - Gillmore will be eligible for parole in 2014.
Two of his nine victims who spoke at the hearing have mixed feelings about the ruling.
'It's good that he's in there for another two years,' said Colleen Kelly. 'But we're disappointed that they voted in two years to bring us back here,' Danielle Tudor added.
' … But we'll take the two years.'
The victory is just one battle in a war to keep Gillmore behind bars.
Gillmore, 52, is known at the notorious Jogger Rapist, who terrorized nine girls and young women in the late 1970s and 1980s. He'd hunt, stalk and then rape his victims while jogging.
It wasn't until he raped 13-year-old Tiffany Edens, attacking the girl as she did chores in her Troutdale home in 1986, that he was caught. At the time, he was on a list of possible hires for the Gresham Police Department.
Appearing via satellite from the Two Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla, Gillmore talked of his Christian beliefs and self-discovery through self-help books, support groups and prison treatment programs. 'I journal, I pray,' he said, later adding that he also tries to keep a lid on what one board member referred to as inappropriate fantasies.
'If you let yourself get into a fantasy mode, I try to catch that right away,' Gillmore said, adding that he tells himself he doesn't need that immediate gratification 'because I know where that led me before.'
Unlike in his prior parole board hearings, Gillmore was more direct in describing his crimes as rapes. He also, for the first time, admitted to 'burglarizing houses for a lot of years,' before committing his first rape.
Gillmore said he's trying to be more honest with himself about what he's done. 'There's nothing else to lose. I'm already here,' he said, referring to prison. 'I've done the time. … It is what it is. I am who I am.'
He said feelings of insecurity, weakness, anger and sadness caused him to rape. At the time, he was struggling financially, at work and in his marriage.
Board members wondered how he would manage to not re-offend with many of those same triggers present in every day life - some even more so with the poor economy.
Before he was arrested, 'I didn't know how to respond,' to those triggers, Gillmore said. 'What you don't know, you don't know. Now I know. Now I think I'm more aware.'
Doesn't deserve parole
And while he told the board he feels he's been held accountable for his criminal actions, when asked if he felt he deserved to be paroled, Gillmore answered no.
'I've taken so much from so many people, and I got what I got,' he said tearfully. 'And I probably don't deserved to be paroled.
His two victims at the hearing couldn't agree more.
'It's not fair if he gets out and we still have to live in fear,' said Colleen Kelly. She was 13 when Gillmore broke into her home and tried to rape her in 1980. Luckily, her mother arrived in time to interrupt the attack. '… To let him out with all those triggers would be wrong.'
'I do believe there will be more victims if he is out on parole,' said Danielle Tudor, who described for the parole board how Gillmore broke into her home, saw her and left. He then chose to come back inside, this time armed with a stick, hunt her down as she hid in her parent's bedroom and rape her.
She also said that although he became eligible for parole in 2001 after serving 15 years, the judge who sentenced Gillmore as a dangerous sexual predator gave him a 30-year minimum. 'He's only done 26 years,' Tudor pointed out.
The judge who presided over the Edens' rape case allowed the other victims to testify for Gillmore's sentencing hearing in 1987. Taking all the victims into consideration, the judge sentenced Gillmore to a maximum of 60 years in prison with a 30-year minimum.
One year later, the parole board cut his sentence in half.
His victims, meanwhile, continued to live in prisons of their own - suffering drug and alcohol addictions, failed marriages, depression and in one case suicide.
A warrior relapses
Ken Edens spoke on behalf of his daughter Tiffany. She was a recovered drug user and alcoholic when she began to fight Gillmore's parole in 2007. But in the past few years, she's relapsed. Drug and alcohol treatment have not helped. 'I no longer recognize her,' Edens said.
Her 14-year-old son now lives with his grandmother Rebecca Edens-Ahsing in Gresham.
Virginia Kraemer of Troutdale also described her goddaughter's shattered life. 'She is so lost, this has totally destroyed her,' Kraemer said through tears. Gillmore's every-other-year-parole requests she likened to a 'constant invasion."
'It's like being raped over and over and over again,' Kraemer said.
As for Gillmore, Kraemer said he's deceptive, manipulative and not a changed man.
'He bobs and weaves when he answers questions,' she said, adding that every time he appears before the parole board, Gillmore learns how to play the game better because he is figuring out what the parole board wants to hear.
But real remorse for the lifelong destruction his crimes have on his victims?
'I don't hear it in his gut. I don't hear it in his heart,' she said.
Gillmore's request for parole were denied in 2001, 2003 and 2005, but approved in 2007. But the board didn't notify Edens of his request for parole as required by state law.
When Edens found out her rapist had been granted parole without her voice being heard, she fought back - going public with the story of how Gillmore stalked, ambushed and savagely raped her when she was just 13.
She demanded a second hearing and the board ratified its earlier decision. Outraged, Edens and the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office sued the board, forcing a third hearing.
The landmark case is thought to be the first time an Oregon crime victim has sued the board to overturn a decision. In another unprecedented move, six more victims - including Tudor and Kelly - came forward and spoke of the terror Gillmore inflicted on them.
When the third hearing was finally held in June 2008, Marion County Circuit Court Judge Paul Lipscomb required the board to hear from Edens and a number of other witnesses, including her parents.
In a ruling issued several months later, the board unanimously reversed itself and declared Gillmore too dangerous to be paroled.
When Gillmore requested parole two years later, an emotionally drained Edens was unable to unable to appear.
Although in the past, the board limited testimony at parole consideration hearings to one victim and prosecutor, Tudor and Colleen were allowed to speak. Gillmore, however, objected.
When the parole board denied his parole, Gillmore filed an appeal, citing among other things, the women's testimony.
Because they were allowed to testify at his last hearing, Tudor and Kelly were shocked to hear they would not be allowed to testify at Gillmore's hearing this week.
But in an ironic twist, they'd been tripped up by a new rule that came about in an attempt to make parole board hearings less painful for crime victims.
Rule change limits testimony
After the 2010 hearing, the parole board adopted new administrative rules based on recommendations by a work group it appointed in light of Edens' highly publicized battles for justice.
Hoping to address long-standing procedural issues, including those raised by the case regarding sensitivity to victims' rights, the workgroup released a series of recommendations. One called for expanding the definition of victims who would be allowed to testify at hearings and improving board communications with them.
Although the new definition of victim adopted by the parole board in December 2010 was expanded to include anyone designated by prosecutors of the courts, it limited victims to those who 'suffered direct financial, psychological, or physical harm as a result of a crime that is the subject of a proceeding conducted by the State Board of Parole and Post Prison Supervision.'
Because Gillmore was convicted of raping only Edens, the board said his other eight victims would not be allowed to testify.
The Outlook was the first to report this development on Saturday, June 2. A media storm followed. And on Thursday, June 7, Rep. Matt Wand, R-Troutdale, issued a press release stating that he'd asked the parole board to adopt an emergency rule allowing their testimony.
Wand, an attorney who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, also said he'd introduce legislation in the 2013 legislative session if the board didn't clean up the new rule.
The next day, an attorney representing the women threatened to sue the parole board. Within hours, the board allowed them to speak.
Tudor credited the legal threat and the community's overwhelming support for the board allowing them to testify and keeping Gillmore behind bars. A total of 24 people wrote letters to the board demanding the women be allowed to testify and that Gillmore not be released.
Tudor and Kelly now plan to lobby the legislature to change the definition of victim so other crime victims don't have to fight to be heard.
'The playing field is changing,' said Russ Ratto, Senior Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted Gillmore in 1987. 'The inmates aren't going to get to run the system.'