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Parole Board can still set things right

A Marion County Circuit Court judge's commonsense ruling on Friday provides a chance for a much-needed review of the state Parole Board's decision to release convicted rapist Richard Troy Gillmore.

We hope that the Parole Board takes seriously Judge Paul Lipscomb's critique of the board's process and its decision to release Gillmore. And we further hope that the Parole Board understands that the most insulting action it could take right now would be to appeal Lipscomb's ruling and thereby reinforce its disregard for Gillmore's victims.

The flawed process and decision leading to Gillmore's pending early release came to light in November through a series of articles published in The Outlook. That's when one of Gillmore's victims - Tiffany Edens, a former Troutdale resident - went public with her frustration about the Parole Board's decision to release Gillmore, who had served only about a third of his 60-year sentence.

Edens and the Multnomah County district attorney then took the additional and highly unusual step of suing the Parole Board in circuit court. The lawsuits, which were combined into a single case for the purposes of Lipscomb's ruling, alleged that the board had failed to provide Edens with proper notification of Gillmore's parole hearing and that the board failed to issue a written, detailed rationale for its decision to release Gillmore.

Those allegations were mostly supported by Lipscomb in his Friday ruling. The judge noted that he doesn't have authority to correct the Parole Board's decision - he could only send it back for further review.

But the judge also enumerated multiple flaws in the Parole Board's reasoning. Lipscomb's written ruling clearly demonstrates that the board had even less justification now for releasing Gillmore than it did in 2001, 2003 and 2005 - when it had refused to set Gillmore free.

A psychological evaluation conducted in 2007 concluded that Gillmore posed a high risk for additional sexual violence and was 'not amenable to community-based treatment or supervision.' After reviewing all the documents, Lipscomb arrived at the conclusion that the Parole Board had dismissed the expert advice it was given, and that it instead was swayed by Gillmore's promises that he would behave.

Gillmore's release had been set for next Friday. But Lipscomb's decision will keep him in prison until the Parole Board holds a new parole hearing - one that fully complies with the requirements of Oregon law.

The new hearing will allow Edens and others to mount a vigorous case in favor of keeping Gillmore in prison until he no longer is a danger to the community. We also hope the hearing can lead the Parole Board to a better and more supportable decision than the one it made in October.